Thursday, April 30, 2009

Inquiries into the nature of humanity

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Exhibit A: Email from the Associate Housemaster -

1) [Insert nearby supermarket name] shopping carts should not be stored on [dorm name] property. Please return all shopping carts to [Supermarket name] after use.

2) Unfortunately, the coffee cart at [dorm name] in the North Wing had to be discontinued due to theft of coffee money and coffee. We are in discussions with [the cafe on the first floor] to restart with better security and hopefully in a better location, i.e, the lobby.

Exhibit B: Email from the campus police -

On Wednesday, April 29, 2009 at approximately 8:00 a.m., a female was the victim of an assault by a dangerous weapon (knife) on [street] across from [street]. The victim is an employee of [school] and was walking towards work.

The victim describes the suspect as follows: male, white, forties, medium build, 5'7" - 5'9", wearing a red t-shirt, jeans, and dirty white sneakers. He was also wearing a black baseball hat with some kind of lettering on the front, big dark sunglasses with thick rims. The victim stated the suspect had a friendly voice, with no accent.

The victim was walking along [street] when the suspect said "hey". The victim responded "yes" when the suspect then asked "are you a nurse or a doctor?" The victim asked the suspect if he needed help at which time the suspect pulled out an 8" to 10" kitchen knife from his right rear pocket. The suspect then said if you were a doctor I would have stabbed you, I hate all doctors' and nurses. State, [town] and campus police searched the area looking for the suspect.

On Thursday, April 30, 2009 at approximately 12:45 a.m., a suspicious male followed a female from the area of the Student Center to [dorm]. The suspect did not say anything or do anything to the victim.

The victim describes the suspect as follows: male, white, medium build, brownish or blondish hair, worn in a ponytail that was past shoulder length. He was approximately 5'9" tall and wore a windbreaker jacket with stripes on the arms, wearing jeans.

The victim was walking along [street] and when she picked up her pace the suspect did too.
The victim states she purposelessly looked back at the suspect and last saw him after passing [street] at [street].

On April 12, 2009 there were two armed street robberies reported in the [local mall] neighborhood.

The first occurred on [street] around 10:00pm. A male victim of mid-twenties was approached from behind, a handgun was placed to his back, and he was robbed of his iPod and wallet.

The second incident took place 5 minutes later at the corner of [street] and [street]. A male victim mid-twenties was robbed in a similar fashion and robbed of his camera equipment.

The [town] police believe that it was the same suspect involved in both of these incidents. Suspect is described as a 25 year old black male, 6ft, medium to stocky build, wearing a hooded camouflage jacket (army green) and baggy dark blue jeans.

There have been no incidents similar to these incidents in [area] in recent months.

* * * * * * * *

Granted, these might be isolated incidents, but on a larger scale, kids who learn how to lie and cheat and get away with it tend get into better colleges and become "more successful" in life. And then they will probably end up like Bernie Madoff sooner or later.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

New computational engine?

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Wolfram Alpha
looks pretty nifty... I anticipate its release!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Newgrounds flash animations digest

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"A Bid for Freedom" - I like the artworks... and amusing ending...
Castle series - the most cinematic flash animations I've seen in a while.
"The Assumption Song" - Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha.
"The Stranger Forest" - Magical, fantastic.

Monday, April 27, 2009


- - -
(A post-thesis defense episode)

"Oh ooops!"

((I went over to see what was going on and there was a circular piece of dim-sum snack floating happily in the soy sauce container))

"Let's get it out with this [egg roll]..."

((I also took another egg roll and we scooped the mini-cupcake thing out))

"Good thing that didn't topple over!"


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

"Compare People" on Facebook

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So apparently here's how my Facebook friends perceive me relatively to their Facebook friends... the whole list goes on much longer. I'm amused at the handcuff thing.

you category votes wins win%

5thbetter listener

6thbetter friend


11thharder worker

12thrather get stuck in handcuffs with
12tham I more jealous of

New voicemail prompt

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After some persuasion, I changed my voicemail greeting... after more than 30 tries. I'm still rather unhappy with it. I don't like the way I sound on the phone. Or on any recording for that matter. If I were someone else and I listen to my current voice, I would probably hate it.

Human computation

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This video talks about several games and gimmicks to harness the human mind to solve problems computers can't (yet) solve... I call them games and gimmicks, because on the one hand they're inherently psychologically manipulative, but on the other hand there's also a fair amount of clever algorithmic maneuvers. The speaker is quite entertaining and evidently very enterprising as well.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Oh xkcd.

- - -
Yes, I cracked up at this one.


- - -
Where there is darkness, there is also light. One brings out the other.

If only writing my thesis were as exciting as this...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

SimCity 4

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... is an awesome game. I won't start playing officially until I'm done with real work, because otherwise I would be thinking about the game all the time :-P

Friday, April 17, 2009

Spatial-temporal subliminal messaging

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The weather is suddenly very warm today, as last year's CPW was, if I remembered correctly. (When I was a pre-frosh, there was a thunderstorm that Friday)

(1) I passed by the Math Department open house and saw people with ice cream.

(2) I was at a recital played by a friend I knew from high-school era. (Swipe swipe, I prefer the other version of Prokofiev! It doesn't jump around as much :-P) Mmmm Gershwin is smooooooth as usual. Ferdinand the Bull was a cute piece. Very befitting of the general chillaaaaaxing mood today. Sitting by the tree, smelling the flowers...

(3) The decor of Killian Hall really looked like chocolate-strawberry-coffee cake. It just hit me quite abruptly today... the dark brown door frames and sills, the salmon-pink walls, the beige ceilings... Maybe it was the ice cream subliminal messaging. Then I bought two containers of Häagen-Dazs frozen yogurt (vanilla and coffee), luxurious treats indeed.

(4) I should try not to stuff myself. Think I shall work it off tomorrow...


- - -
My data came out nice! FINALLY. Shall work on the automation script now...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Currently listening to...

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(1) Jamming... mmm, I heart F-minor. [i-v]

(2) "Warmth" (This takes like 10 minutes to load, but the song is somehow very loopable, at least for me. I heart Dorian mode/pentatonicism :-P Ask me if you need a translation for the lyrics. The animation is nicely done too.)

(3) Ryan Farish's songs... there's something about that electric piano and the background echoes.

Class demo

- - -
The prof demo-ed induction heating via a parallel resonant converter, similar to the ballast circuits that spark-start fluorescent lights. He also brought a frying pan, cooking oil, and an egg. "Over easy?" Not sure if it's actually edible though, since the pan looks rusty :-P

When I took the intro circuit class w/ him, I found him a bit monotonous partly because it's a large lecture hall. But he's actually sort of snarky. The colored chalks is also a plus. :-)

And the high-voltage components can kill - just as how the physics prof was swinging on a pendulum...

Monday, April 13, 2009

"Do you believe?"

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I can't remember exactly where I heard this inflection of the quote... it's said by a girl in a British accent... Hermione?

This Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is about that belief in the supernatural. It is reminiscent of X-File, as in the male protagonist is like a younger and more matter-of-fact and cynical version of Fox Mulder. For some strange reason, the group reminds me of Scooby-Doo and the Mystery Machine... and Velma would be the android...

Hmm, do I believe?

Music in public spaces

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I totally cannot see something this happen anywhere in the U.S. or Asia. Even if it's choreographed.

Yeah, something like this is a lot more likely.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


- - -
Big white arctic fluffy jacket with many pockets. Fluffy jacket!

Yum yum yum yum yum...

(01) Dragon Maki: Sushi with eel + CA roll contents. Avocado! :-P
(02) Volcano Maki: Spicy tuna + CA roll contents. Spicy tuna is not a species :-P
(03) Too much wasabi => runny nose :-P
(04) New-Age Asian fusion jazz :-)
(05) The Apple Store - sleeeeekness. The spiral glass staircase.
(06) J.S. Bach's running pose!

ZzZzZzZzZzZz... :-P

(07) Finale cheesecake, creamy and luxurious...
(08) Watercolor :-) Lake with colorful leaves. I tend to draw landscape with water... with watercolors. Very soothing. 106.7 FM is very soothing also. J.S. Bach's victory lap! "Dude I just wrote a 5-part fugue!!" With psychedelic radiance. Glorious.
(09) Random searches about evolution of language. Will expand further.
(10) Bubble tea~ Tapioca green tea with milk~



Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Algebraic manipulation

- - -
... is NOT fun while grading homeworks. NOT FUN. It's fun when doing certain proofs though...


- - -
Comfort food: Subway, 1ft-long chicken breast sub (or roast beef sub) on honey oat bread, toasted, no cheese, lettuce, tomato slices, pickles, olives, (onions), (bell peppers), with a dash of mustard.

Comfort movie: Amélie

Comfort motion picture: Spirited Away

Scarborough Fair

- - -
There's something comforting about this tune. I have three different versions of it... traditional choir, Simon & Garfunkel's,

and instrumental jazz (European Jazz Trio)


- - -
The demons clamor and rage, consuming all thoughts, devouring all sensations. The boundaries hold them in, for now, sealing them off from the ambient. Countdown to implosion has begun, and there is no turning back. These entities should be quarantined to prevent extensive damage to the macro-environment. Their toxins have a long half-life and the anti-serums are in short supply.

Just like this...

Monday, April 6, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

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This generated a big hype not too long ago - there's something about a rags-to-riches story that draws people in, hmm? Like the protagonist's dogged persistence and chutzpah to go after his lost love. For many times. Despite everything. And at the very end, there was, of course, some luck involved in the form of a sort of counter-dues ex machina... he miraculously gets the last question right and wins the money and the girl.

Maybe this is the same psychology that has made people buy into Reaganomics earlier.

Nonetheless, one is always free to hope and imagine.

Friday, April 3, 2009

When science fiction...

- - -
... is no longer fiction. Like the computer system in "Minority Report".

Michael Clayton

- - -
The fictional game in the movie, Realm + Conquest, has a similar concept to World of Warcraft, except it seems like a mix of both RPG and real-time strategy. As the protagonist listens half-heartedly to his son's description of R + C, it becomes clear that the game is a motif. He remarked, "sounds familiar", as he turns the steering wheel on the way to his son's school. It reminds him of what he does that isn't on the job description - as the "fixer" or go-to guy whenever the law firm that he works in needs a massive bailout.

"There are 15 different kinds of characters, and they all play against one another, not knowing who're friends or enemies, so it's everyone for himself."

Except for the defense lawyer from the same law firm that's hired by an agroproducts conglomerate... the lawyer who turns against his client and actually has a conscience and pays a price. And his fixer friend who discovers the truth.

The world always needs lawyers with a sense of justice.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


- - -
Cloudy days dissolve fast with sprinkles of diminished fifth notes. As the gray campus awaits spring, the sun lingers just a little bit longer each day. The fragments of Honey Bunches o' Oats tasted sublime with the sesame seeds from my bagel... reminded me of sesame candy bars... my comfort snack way back when.

The spoon incised my yogurt parallel to the incident light with an imaginary 7th chord, with gratuitous reverberation for good measures. My daily exercises have fast evolved into syncopated fugues and polyphonic canons. In Dorian mode I seek peace and enlightenment. In yogurts I seek temporary respites.

Office hours

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OH was good today... had two students making up labs and two others with homework questions. And it was a happy moment when the differential equations work out, ahahah. One student remarked that I must be super-busy and all, with thesis and classes and TA-ing... at least my thesis doesn't have fabrication! That would definitely add some months to the timeline.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Follow the Rubik's cubes...

- - -
I successfully resisted a replay of a Hansel-and-Gretel moment in the Student Financial Services by not solving the scrambled cube on the counter. However, I did succumb to the impulse when I was visiting a lab at Cornell (the MathWorks cube!)

There's a chance I might fall for an elaborate ruse where I'd follow a trail of unsolved Rubik's cubes like bread crumbs... to my demise...