Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Gekka no Kimi

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Sigh, staying up reading mangas again... this picture captures a mixture of surprise and wonderment and hope and something else...

I don't read this genre often, but the flashbacks and flash-forwards story structure (and the pretty art) have proved irresistible.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Random bits of happiness

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Fresh laundry makes me feel relaxed and fluffy. :-) Now the green blankie and towel are very soft and smell nice~

Female profs

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I met a grad student who's almost done w/ her thesis and has been interviewing for faculty positions at MIT and CMU. She's pretty cool and also intelligently articulate. I hope she gets offers! We need more female representation. :-)


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I've come to the conclusion that I need to live near a large body of water, without the lake effect. The hills and woods and serene Tudor-style architecture made me realize that the urban campus is quite ugly by comparison. Quiet walks in a forest make me feel very purr... Dan Gibson's Forest Cello comes to mind. So does gorgeous lake scenery viewed from a few stories up, or an overhang, or on top of a grassy amphitheater... although I'm a bit more of an ocean person. Which means being landlocked is an absolute no-no.

At the same time, I need to have (1) high-speed internet (2) access to artistic media, and (3) movies.

Phenomenally stupid

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I failed to tell an inductor from a capacitor on a circuit board, which was quite an unforgivable mistake, and it made me look extremely stupid. The other LA came over and was like, that's not an inductor! Ugh ugh ugh. What the fuck is wrong with me...

Air travel incidentals

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United Airline has rather small overhead compartments and I had to check my carry-on because I was assigned Zone 4 boarding. And they played a movie with maximum flashing during a redeye flight. US Airways delayed my flight for more than 4 hours when there wasn't a storm.

And too much noise in the form of crowds and PA announcements gives me bloody headaches.

My iPod is a lifesaver. So does being able to simulate Rachmaninoff piano concertos in my head.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time

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I first heard of this book from a lab mate who was working in the same building as I was, last June. He highly recommended this book. The local library didn't have it, so I didn't get to read it until now, where the library here does have it... though I had to wait since someone else was reading it.

Haven't actually started reading this, but from a cursory flipping of the first few pages and glancing at the link above, it reminded me of one of my own book ideas... I was thinking about embedding a puzzle through textual clues, figures, diagrams, etc. Maybe I'll watch Rain Man too.

More updates after I've read the book...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Initial conditions and boundary conditions

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Dustin Hoffman once said something to the like of actors being uncomfortable in their own skin. When one thinks about it, it makes sense. They're constantly in search of roles - becoming someone else - from another time, another place. The select few who make it big this way get material rewards and if they're fortunate, self-actualization. The rest sinks into unknown, probably moving on and finding other ways to channel their desires.

The most essential and universal ingredient of happiness is being comfortable with oneself. Preferably not at the expense of others' happiness.

When years of emotional baggage accumulate and get recycled like frying oil, the taste becomes greasy, oppressive, nauseating. The only way to become free is to dump out the oil and wash the pan clean. Like a clean break, away from the sphere of influence.

The initial conditions determine the particular behavioral schema that tends to perpetuate ad infinitum and recurse until the base case, if it ever reaches there. The boundary conditions affect how the system behaves as its parameters change over time. If the initial conditions were not optimal, the system may still operate normally as long as the boundary conditions were adjusted accordingly... because the initial conditions do not impact the natural and homogeneous behavior of the system.

However, if the boundary conditions were not set properly, then the initial transients may linger on and never die out, forever and ever, and the system would always be limited by its initial conditions. And when the iterating functions do not have the right parameter values, they would spiral inward into the prisoner set.

The only way to escape from the prisoner set is to change the parameters and set the boundary conditions in such a way.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Das Leben der Anderen (2006)

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(a.k.a. The Lives of Others)

This moved me very much -- The emotion-layered acting and the music, simple yet effective. Especially the love theme and Sonata for a Good Man written for this film by Gabriel Yared. Before when I said that this wasn't yaoi, I take it back... because on a subtle level it is. At the very end of film I realized it, during a particular moment when the love theme again plays in the background, more subdued than before, but that time it's not the love between the playwright and his girlfriend. (I'm not gonna spoil it more =P)

(Sebastian Koch specifically learned the piece for the film, and he didn't know how to play the piano at all, lol. It has become the only song he can play.)

The love theme melody goes [G G G G- F, C C C C C- Bb, F F F F- Eb], so up a 4th after each phrase. Mmm... whenever I hear a I-IV or i-IV progression (more for i-IV) I think of sunlight reflecting off glimmering waters. :-)

And in the director's commentaries, he mentioned how he was trying to create a memorable texture through a uniform color theme... like how we remember Indiana Jones's brown hat and whip and beige sand. It worked pretty nicely. When I recall some of my favorite movies, I would think of colors too (e.g. Amélie: orange-vermillion, Spirited Away: sky-blue and grass-green)

I think I escape into the Matrix a bit too often these days... or have I always been in it and sometimes escapes out of it?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


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So sofffffftttttttttt~~~~~

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Rubik's cube

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I solved the Rubik's cube at the Student Financial Services.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Thank You For Smoking

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"Michael Jordan plays ball; Charlie Manson kills people; I talk." And quite a talker. It's like taking Jon Swift's treatise on eating babies and legitimizing the whole deal. Modern satire... so un-PC that it's funny.

Completely diametrically opposite treatment compared to "The Insider", as that is a serious film and Russell Crowe is a martyr, whereas Aaron Eckhart here is a shameless and quick-tongued clown-figure.

His son is rather articulate as well, like Brian the talking baby in Family Guy? I can see how he'd make a fine lawyer...

I always get annoyed at people who take full advantage of their persuasive skills to do... certain things. Though I've been working on sharpening my pen instead. "Michael Jordan plays ball; Charlie Manson kills people; Lobbyists and lawyers talk; I write random blog entries. And sometimes do useful science."

On a fresh morning

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Sunlight filtering in through the Venetian blinds. The scent of lemon tea, the beach kind. Minty toothpaste.

Fruit juice and cereal. The kind without added sugar, preferably. Piano jazz that is modal with 7th and 9th chords at moments when they would swing inside a stable equilibrium point until they settle in the recess of my mind.

And maybe dark, dark chocolate, or coffee. Black.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Moment suspended

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By sine waves strung together with water drops, perfectly iridescent spheres large and small, scintillating and diffracting the cross-sections of time as I contemplated on a singularity.

Friday, March 13, 2009


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My key is wrong after all, which means I was right the very first time... and changed right answers to wrong ones.....

Hug an Engineer Day

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I question my mental stability to undertake graduate studies, and I'm not sure anyone can really help me with this... because I know I will refuse to let anyone do so...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Gibberish is actually a double-cascaded cipher

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Plain text, then Vigenère cipher with a key, then Caesar shift. Enjoy! :-)

Sadomasochism is actually misguided aggression, as often seen in the academic world... where it's usually obvious who are the sadists and who are the masochists.


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My 7th grade social studies teacher once quipped that my high school's literary magazine should be renamed as "ANGST". He had a point. The vast majority of the poems in there was inspired by teenage hormonal moments, and truly philosophical/cerebral poems were rare (I happen to personally know two of the more brilliant writers over the span of 6 years... one is in a med school in NY and the other is at Yale law.)

ANGST has a way of recursively feeding off of itself. Unless otherwise distracted, it will lock itself in an ever-expanding loop of irrationality, where all events occurring after t = tANGST are phase-shifted toward the hot-end of the spectrum.

To break the cycle, the ANGSTY person must find a suitable source of digression. This can be rather difficult as the person is often fiendishly possessed by the ANGST and thus determined to remain angry at anything and everything.

If a source of digression cannot be found, time is usually a reliable way of diffusing ANGST, as ANGST tends to follow an exponential decay (but with rather long time constants like certain radioactive decay... like people not speaking for years and years)

For which cases, the sources of ANGST would need to be identified and addressed.


Almost caused a fire

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So I was boiling water and didn't realize that it was done until 1/2 of it became steam. Well, I still have plenty of unreleased steam from all the ungraded homeworks I have to get through.

Actually, come to think of it, I haven't gotten sick for real in more than 2 years... maybe because I get more sleep than the average Americans. Is that a sin? And did I just jinx myself and now I'll be sick in time for my exam next week? I love my life!

All I feel like is reading mangas right now. Or watch another movie.


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Is it bad to do things slowly? Maybe it's just bad nowadays when everything else moves so fast. Am I stupid when I absorb concepts slowly? I probably am. Especially when I'm around people who absorb concepts fast. The only way I compensate is by spending more time on things, but someone disapproves. I guess that's one aspect of incompatibility.

Poetry about science

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Haha, some guy came across my poem about transistors from ages ago...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


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The lights are so bright, so bright, way too glaring against my darkness inside.

Each time a former I.O.N. resident said they liked I.O.N. better than Palm Gulfs, it was like a two-hit knife stab until I became a mangled mass that initially squirted blood that leached out later, slowly, slowly...

And then whenever someone asked me where else I'm considering, like I.O.N.? I had to say that my advisors told me to go someplace else and see the world. It was poking in the knife wound every time. I had an inferiority complex. That got worse as the day progressed. That might also explain the isolated Freudian slip I exposed shortly before dinner... "My advisors told me to go away... I mean, go somewhere else..."

As much as I might have not liked I.O.N. very much in the past, I've come to consider it as a home of sorts. And there's a Special Person I am very, very, very, very, very reluctant to be away from and it rubs salt in the wound whenever someone joked about having a >6-yr PhD.

Maybe I'm oversensitive, but it feels very real, and too raw, too fast, and I'm not sure what to do...

When I had to leave dinner early to catch my flight and waiting for my friend's ride outside the restaurant, the gallery next to it was playing some violin music on speakers. It sounded Dvorak/Liszt-like or whoever wrote Gypsy-style folk tunes, and it resonated something fundamental... for a moment I was suspended between the past and future with nowhere to go in the present...

Sunday, March 8, 2009

0, 1, 2, 3

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Just so there exists a duality. When the weather slinks back into a Nihilistic puddle of rain and mist, gray and blurring the boundary between full consciousness and whatever its opposite is.

The gray that is the mixture, the Duality of black and white.

A most Singular moment of Symmetry, when orthogonality does not necessarily imply independence. Any Flatland resident can safely say 2-D is more interesting than 1-D...

Juggling 2 objects with 2 hands is relatively simple. But to juggle 3 objects, one needs to juggle 2 with one hand first.

When Two extrapolates to Three, the matrices of situational hypotheses are harder to determine and invert. That why they called it a determinant?

Orthogonality does not imply independence.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Book list

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(This I got from a Facebook note.)

The BBC/The Big Read believe most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here. How do your reading habits stack up?

1) Look at the list and put an 'x' after those you have read.
2) Add a '+' to the ones you LOVE.
3) Star (*) those you plan on reading.
4) Add a '-' to the ones you HATED.
5) Tally your total and put it in the title.

My x's: 001, 003, 004, 005, 008, 010, 013, 014 (mostly his tragedies...), 015, 018, 025, 041, 042, 044, 049, 057, 061, 066, 081, 089, 092, 100

My +'s: 013, 044, 089, 092

I may plan to read quite a few of them, but I don't know if I'll realistically get to them, uh.

001 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
002 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
003 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
004 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
005 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
006 The Bible (read a few pages)
007 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
008 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
009 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
010 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
011 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
012 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
013 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
014 Complete Works of Shakespeare
015 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
016 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
017 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
018 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
019 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
020 Middlemarch - George Eliot
021 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchel
022 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
023 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
024 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
025 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
026 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
027 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
028 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
029 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
030 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
031 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
032 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
033 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
034 Emma - Jane Austen
035 Persuasion - Jane Austen
036 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
037 Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
038 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
039 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
040 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
041 Animal Farm - George Orwell
042 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
043 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
044 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
045 The Woman in White
046 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
047 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
048 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
049 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
050 Atonement - Ian McEwan
051 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
052 Dune - Frank Herbert
053 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
054 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
055 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
056 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
057 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
058 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
(read a random page in the middle)
059 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
060 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
061 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
062 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
063 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
064 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
065 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
066 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
067 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
068 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
069 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
070 Moby Dick - Herman Melville (read the first two pages)
071 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
072 Dracula - Bram Stoker
073 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
074 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
075 Ulysses - James Joyce
076 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
077 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
078 Germinal - Emile Zola
079 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
080 Possession - AS Byatt
081 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
082 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
083 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
084 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
(I read another book by him)
085 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
086 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
087 Charlotte’s Web - EB White (saw movie?)
088 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
089 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
090 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
091 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
092 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
093 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
094 Watership Down - Richard Adams
095 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Toole
096 ????????????????????????????
097 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
098 ????????????????????????????
099 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl (saw movie?)
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Monday, March 2, 2009

"Measure of creativity"

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I think it'll be interesting to observe my "artistic output index" throughout the years, normalized and categorized. The graph will come later.