May 20, 2012

Married to Christina

Christina & WesChristina and I had our marriage celebration today with a small group of friends and family. Everything went very well and Christina looked beautiful in her wedding gown and Chinese dress. We held the ceremony beside a lake (water hazard) at Summitpointe Golf Club and then had the reception afterwards in the main hall. It wasn't the most fancy venue but the outdoor ceremony was very nice and most importantly everyone enjoyed it.

My friend Anthony did a great job as our ceremony officiant, reading a script prepared by one of my other friends Matt who unfortunately couldn't make it because he got stuck in Indonesia on business. We had a sand ceremony of red and blue sand that we poured into a heart-shaped vase Christina found in China. Christine, one of Christina's friends, was her maid of honor and Jasmine was her bridesmaid. Calvin was my best man and Dennis was my groomsman. Naomi wore a pretty little white dress and was our flower girl.

Christina was particularly happy with the flowers that we had that day. That was probably the best decoration of the entire celebration. We took all the flowers home and they're all over our bedroom right now. Some of the other stuff didn't go as well: we didn't find out that the room wasn't going to be decorated until the day before and had to make rush arrangements to get that done and the changing room was very small and was primarily the event coordinator's office.

At the reception, Dennis was the DJ and he did a really good job at it. We played 'Eyes on Me' by Faye Wong as the song for our first dance. During our dinner at the sweetheart table we had a special guest because Caitlin came to eat with us. Calvin and my mom said a few words for the toast. Christina didn't like the food that much but other people said it was good. I played a lot with Naomi and Caitlin which was lots of fun, and was happy to see Shannon and Mei-Ling again after over a year since last time.

We all had a good time but we're glad it's all over so we can relax again.

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July 11, 2010

San Jose Obon Festival 2010

San Jose's Japantown is holding their annual Obon Festival, hosted by the SJ Buddhist Church Betsuin. It runs today and tomorrow, for several hours each day. This is the first year I've gone. It's definitely not like the fancy temple Obon festivals you may have seen on TV or in anime, but it was close, taking into account the location and people that would show up.

I did find it a little disappointing. It was a little small, and didn't have a whole lot to see or do. There was a food court, which had a lot of regular-type Japanese and summer food, although there was a taiyaki stand. Unfortunately they were shaped like English muffins rather than fish. But tasted decent.

The one thing I did really enjoy was the Taiko drumming. A few different schools and organizations showed up to perform. The one I was able to attend for the entire duration was the UC Irvine Jodaiko group. Their performance, which also included some fun play between members, kept a big smile on my face.

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July 7, 2010

Lilith Fair 2010

I went to Lilith Fair with Yvonne and two of her friends, Tina and Jackie, yesterday at the Shoreline Amphiteatre in Mountain View. (Make the drive to the venue itself to purchase tickets; they are significantly cheaper that way.) I had a lot of fun, but mostly because of Yvonne, Tina, and Jackie and not the fair. We did end up meeting Dantam and her friends later on, after having gotten there around 1:30pm but not actually listening to any music until 4pm.

The event wasn't put on the way I expected. Gates opened at 2:30pm as I was told by the box office when I purchased the tickets. It didn't take too long to get inside although everyone's bag was thoroughly checked which meant slow entry. But the lawn didn't open until 3:30pm so we ended up standing in that line for a while too. They obviously wanted you to spend time checking out the sponsor booths, getting samples, and buying food, drink, or other little things. Borders was selling CDs at relatively high prices.

After eating a bit on the lawn, I stayed with our spot while they went off to check things out. They came back with a bunch of freebies. All the freebies are for women though, so I didn't really get much. One person still had a bunch of stuff she needed to get rid of before performances on the main stage started, so I was offered something for "my girlfriend".

Alison MonroI did get to see the one artist I really cared about though, which was A Fine Frenzy. Their set was kind of short and on one of the small stages though. And the audio setup wasn't super great. But it was still cool. Much cooler was getting Alison Monro to sign my CD (I bought it from the Borders tent after I found out there was going to be a signing). I think she was happy when I told her I came to Lilith specifically to see them. ^_^ The guy behind me in line was pretty nice and took a photo of me and Alison, which he promised to mail me later.

I didn't get a chance to see Terra Naomi (heard her a bit while in line for the lawn, and sounded interesting) or Kitten and I think I would have liked to. It wasn't that clear to me how the schedule worked; we only found out about the multiple stages after getting inside.

The sponsor booths basically shut down once the main stage opened. Everyone piled in to see the main attractions. But none of them had any real interest for me. All the new interesting artists were outside on the little stages, before the main performances. We stayed through Colbie Caillat, The Bangles, and left in the middle of Miranda Lambert around 8:15pm because they all had class the next day. Looks like we missed Heart and then finally Sarah McLachlan, who is the only one any of us had any interest in listening to.

There are a bunch of other artists participating in Lilith Fair that I would have really liked to see, but they weren't playing in San Francisco. Some of them "oldies" like Sheryl Crow and Suzanne Vega and Beth Orton, but most of them newbies or people I haven't heard about before (too many to list here) and they usually only showed up at one or two of the venues, whichever happened to be closest to where they live. I actually thought Lilith was primarily to show off new interesting female artists, so have a main set featuring artists that made music before I was born was a little disappointing.

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August 10, 2008

Wedding BBQ + Picnic

Luna and I had our official wedding celebration yesterday at Almaden Lake Park. It wasn't anything fancy, although we were both dressed up in suit and wedding dress. That was somewhat uncomfortable because I had to do a lot of heaving lifting and cooking and all of the setup. It was a barbeque with some Chinese food ordered from Mimi's Chinese Kitchen (a small family owned Chinese restaurant). The cake was from Flower Flour.

Of course my parents and brothers were here, along with both my brothers' girlfriends. Wendy and Brian were there. Mei-Ling and of course Shannon and Yvonne. Alla and her boyfriend Eric. Hsiuli and Spencer, plus I think an aunt or Hsiuli's aunt. Tintin made it. The BBQ and picnic lasted a few hours. Afterwards we went back home and some people came with us. Spencer really got into playing Settlers of Catan. Shannon and Yvonne liked to visit the kitties, of course.

At night I basically collapsed. I had been going on adrenaline the entire day in order to take care of everything. All the setup, cleaning, and hanging out with people. Once the adrenaline stopped I couldn't even really move.

On Sunday it was just Luna and me with Dennis and Iris, Calvin, and Spencer. We ate lunch at Round Table and then played a round of miniature golf at Golfland.

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June 30, 2008

LAFF 2008 + Electric Daisy

This year Netflix's film festival-related party was in Los Angeles as part of the LA Film Festival. Luna and I drove down and stayed in a hotel near the beach. We spent some time exploring there, and ate at a theme seafood restaurant (not super great). But probably the most memorable part of exploring was this pet store we found near the hotel that had some kittens and cats for adoption. Of course Luna wanted to bring them home, but we can't take care of any more cats than we already have.

Netflix's party was co-hosted by FOX again, in some expensive house up in the hills. I guess someone actually lives there, but it was available for rent. It has a really great view of Los Angeles, and there was a swimming pool and it was fairly large in comparison to the types of houses that you might find in the area. Luna mostly ate some food, and met Reed for the first time. I danced a little bit but not much. We didn't stay too late.

Since we had gone down to Los Angeles before, this time we went to Universal Studios instead of Disneyland. The park was much more movie-oriented of course, and more shows than rides. So I didn't find it as much fun but there were certainly a lot of interesting things to see. We did the ride that goes through the park and stage sets. There was a Mummy ride in promotion with the new Mummy movie. We had a good time for the most part.

At night I went with Greg Orzell to Electric Daisy. That was definitely the most exciting part of my trip. Luna isn't into that sort of music or dancing so she didn't go. It took us a long time to get inside, but it was really great. Tons of people, but not too many so you didn't have room to dance since it was outdoors at a stadium. Although it was too many if you wanted to try and get in and out of the stadium. I wasn't really dressed the part. I should have worn shorts and a T-shirt instead of slacks and a clubbing shirt. A lot of people were wearing a lot less clothing.

The best set was definitely by BT. His music is upbeat enough to keep the body moving, but intricate and beautiful at the same time instead of just being a bunch of drum 'n bass, jungle, or house. Paul Oakenfold was also there, but I thought his set was just okay. I also remember Paul Van Dyk's set, because he was last and probably the most heavily promoted of the artists. He included a strong laser light show, and it was probably good to place him last because his music is more trance and ambient so it slowed things down a bit. But that also meant it wasn't really the most exciting music to listen to in this party environment.

There was one scary incident during the carnival, when a girl collapsed. I ran to find the local paramedics, but by the time I actually found them someone had already called it in. I'm not sure what ended up happening to her, but I think she was okay when they found her.

Overall a really fun time. I danced pretty much non-stop for around four hours. Massive leg cramps but I danced through those too. :)

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December 28, 2007

Home from Christmas

Luna and I just got back from spending Christmas at my parents house in New York. We were there for four days, not including the two days spent flying. Dennis and Iris were there until the 24th, after which they went to Iris' parents' place. Calvin took the same flights that we did.

Luna was really excited to see so much snow, and the first day she wanted to go outside and play in it. But it was raining at that time and she hadn't packed the right clothing for us. In fact, she only packed me one pair of pants and the wrong shirts, so I ended up having to go buy some pants and wash the clothes often. Luna also bought some boots and a bag while we were out. We never got around to actually playing in the snow afterwards.

HeroesAnd I actually spent two days just watching season one of Heroes on my mom's laptop. Luna watched season one just before we flew out, without me. Heroes has excellent characters and a great plot. That's really what's so good about the show. There is a pretty large cast of people, some with super powers and some without, who find themselves bound together through taut strings of destiny to save the world. As things are revealed and you try to piece together the puzzle of motivations and challenges, so are they doing the same thing.

Unfortunately, while there's a really strong cast and excellent plot, the execution itself is plagued with sloppiness. That's a real turn off for me, and Luna didn't like it either after I started pointing them out to her. There are scenes that show up in one episode, and then you see them again in the following episode but the dialog, action, and even the set have changed. Part of me thinks this must have become a deliberate choice, if it didn't already start out that way. There's even one character who shows up and then mysteriously disappears without explanation. And some Ando-paradoxes are never answered.

Still, it's a great show and I can understand why people really like it. There's a whole lot of inside jokes and little gestures as well, such as George Takei's license plate or Stan Lee's cameo. I did appreciate those, although I suspect the vast majority of viewers didn't even notice.

Christmas day Luna and I spent sleeping. She wanted to wake up early to get presents, but then after that we both went back to sleep and ended up spending a lot of the night actually awake instead of sleeping. I got a new pair of sneakers which I really needed because mine are so old; I was actually looking at some when we went out earlier to buy the pants, but ended up not buying any. I also got socks and some money. Luna got a coat and a pair of warm socks. Calvin got me Transmission and Luna a scarf. Dennis and Iris gave us Genki Hats of Luna and Artemis.

Statue of LibertyThe day after Christmas Luna and I took Amtrak to New York City. She wanted to see the Statue of Liberty and ground zero. The train ride was about 2.5 hours each direction, and was convenient because once in the city we could just take the subway and walk. Unfortunately the actual Statue of Liberty ferries and stops took four whole hours to do. We had to wait in line for a long time to get onto the ferry, which has airport-like security screening, and then again on the way to Ellis Island and back to Manhattan. We couldn't get into the Statue of Liberty itself though because all of the time passes had been given out; you need to reserve well in advance it seems. So other than some quick pictures it wasn't very fruitful. It's also a lot smaller than I thought it would be. The tickets are sold out of Castle Clinton though, and the whole thing brought back memories of Deus Ex.

Afterwards we went to ground zero but didn't enter the special memorial thing they have set up while construction is going on. Luna just snapped some quick pictures through holes in the fence they set up around the hole. When we saw some local cemeteries she thought the people that died there had been buried right there, but of course those are just regular cemeteries next to churches.

Dinner was at Roxy's Delicatessen which is pricey but nice. I probably wouldn't go back again though. Service was a little slow and I saw one of the wrapped muffins fall on the floor and then get put back onto the shelf (it was wrapped, so not really a big deal, but still feels weird). We walked around Times Square for a long time, visiting places like the M&M store and Hershey store until it was time for our train back.

It's the flight back to San Jose that was really annoying. Our plane at Albany arrived late, so there was no airplane for us to take to Detroit even though we could have left if a plane and crew had been available. As a result, we missed our connection in Detroit and ended up taking a later flight to Minneapolis/St. Paul on standby. And since we were late arriving there, our flight to San Jose had already left and we would have to stay overnight if we wanted to catch the next one. Instead, we got on standby for a flight to San Francisco, and arrived at SFO around 12:30am without any of our luggage. We had to wait a long time for a shuttle that would take us to where Luna and I parked at SJC, and finally arrived home at 3am. Northwest needs to find our luggage and somehow get it back to California to deliver to our home.

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July 5, 2007

Fireworks

Luna really wanted to see fireworks this year, so we went to the downtown San Jose fireworks show held at the Children's Discovery Museum. We didn't go to the main area, but stood on the nearby street after taking the VTA light rail to the Civic Center station. Luna bought a sno cone from one of the vendors while we waited for the show to start. The fireworks were about the same as last year, but Luna really liked it. I'm not sure we'll go again next year though, since it's usually always the same thing.

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May 27, 2007

FanimeCon 2007

Luna and I got back from FanimeCon 2007 at around 7pm. We got on the light rail this morning around 10am, and got to the convention center around 10:45am. Unfortunately, that was too late. This was the first time I'd gone so late, and it also seems like anime's increasing popularity is being represented at the cons (there are more cons this year as well). We ended up having to stand in line for at least 2.5 hours! The longest I've ever had to stand in line in previous years was about 15 minutes, although I'd never gotten there so late before. There were a lot more staff members this year as well, and I think they expanded into more rooms.

Anyway, we spent the vast majority of our time in the dealer's room, since both of us just really care about picking up some hard-to-find collectibles. At first, Luna got really sidetracked by seeing some of the dolls, because she saw some people selling clothing and accessories for them in the artists' room. And so we ended up not going through systematically and sort of running around to look for the doll seller. They're too expensive though, so she won't buy one until later.

Luna also ended up not always knowing what she wanted until after we had left a store, so in a couple of cases we actually ended up coming back to the same store to buy things a second time. Which is bad because you can usually get a little discount by buying more things all at once. So we probably could have saved a little more money if she would have known what she wanted at the beginning instead of only deciding later.

Yvonne had told me she wanted something from Paranoia Agent or Romeo x Juliet, but I couldn't find anything about those two shows. We ran into Sonia later on, and I asked her what Yvonne might like instead, but she couldn't think of anything except Romeo x Juliet. So we ended up getting Yvonne and Shannon one plushie each. Although now I'm not sure if Yvonne already has the plushie I ended up picking for her. Luna also picked up a Gackt single to send back to her cousin in Shanghai.

Anyway, I purchased a Gunslinger Girl wall scroll, while Luna got one of Kyo Kara Maoh!. I got a Tachikoma 1/24 scale model, although not at the greatest price, and the four figure Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children figure collection. Luna got a five-piece One Piece figure collection, but they didn't make a figure of Sanji who is Luna's favorite character. She decided not to get the special versions of Nami or Usopp. I got one doll of Lain in her bear pajamas, and also a doll of Kasukabe Saki in her President cosplay outfit, from Genshiken. I want to get the Ohno cosplay dolls as well, to go with Saki. I didn't see any of Ohno at the convention. Luna got the first eight volumes of xxxHolic and a Mokona doll that wiggles when you pull a string.

We walked a lot today, and carried back a lot of stuff. Both of our feet hurt now, but I think we found a lot of pretty good stuff that we wouldn't have found elsewhere. The One Piece collection is actually from a Japanese store that has two branches: one in Japan and the other in Los Angeles. The sellers were actually Japanese, and one of them didn't know very much English. So Luna talked to her in Japanese asking about the collection. They were also selling a Keroro collection but for the size of the pieces, neither of us thought it was a good price.

Sora in the WindowMononoke-HimeI did think it was interesting that this year's most popular characters were from Kingdom Hearts 2, by far. Organization XIII and Sora were popular cosplay costumes, and so many of the doujin artists featured Kingdom Hearts 2 characters. Final Fantasy and Naruto were not as popular anymore. There were a few people dressed as Princess Mononoke, more than I expected. The girl in front of us in line actually had a very good costume. There was also a bunch of Mario Bros. characters, and one group of girls came together as Princess Peach, Daisy, and Toadstool. A Shy Guy and Mario found them and they made a good group picture.

Luna with Keroro and TamamaWes and The EmpireHere is a photo of Luna with Keroro and Tamama, and one of me with a couple of Empire employees.

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February 11, 2007

27th Birthday

I had my 27th birthday party today. Luna and I cooked Italian food, including spaghetti and meatballs, some fried salmon, and a tomato-based chicken dish. We had bread and cheese, some green grapes, and ice cream cake for dessert. Alla showed up, of course, as did Ellen, Tintin, and Samir and Jamie. Dantam couldn't make it because she was caring for one of her friends who was sick. A lot of people arrived late, and then Ellen left early because she had plans to go dancing in San Francisco, and Samir and Jamie left around the same time as her.

Alla, Ellen, and Dantam pitched in to get me a Logitech Harmony 550 remote control for the upstairs system. Samir and Jamie got me Xenosaga: Episode III, and Tintin got me an interesting little postcard for Neon Genesis Evangelion. Luna got me the two volume manga of Le Portrait de Petit Cossette and a copy of .hack//AI buster.

Since Alla and Tintin stayed around, we played a game of Puerto Rico. It moved a lot faster this time since we knew what we were doing, and we also discovered that some of the things we'd done the first time were incorrect. This time Luna won. For a short period of time in the middle Tintin and Alla weren't paying much attention because they started talking about French movies and the language.

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February 10, 2007

Dinner with Calvin

Luna and I had dinner with Calvin tonight as a sort of late birthday dinner. We would have gone last weekend, closer to my birthday, except I was sick. We went to Cupertino Village, which is about 20 minutes away, and had dinner at a fancy Chinese restaurant. The menu said Cantonese food, and we ordered a bunch of dishes. Most of it was very good, although pricey because it is fancy, except for some fried tofu where the outside had a large and heavy coating. Afterwards, Luna bought some packaged chestnuts from 99 Ranch.

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January 17, 2007

Officially Married

Luna and I were officially married on Tuesday, January 16, 2007 in the little "chapel" of the Santa Clara County Clerk-Recorder's office. Calvin and my mom were witnesses. We arrived on time just barely but the couple two spots before us was still in process. So we had to wait a while before our turn actually came. Turns out you're supposed to have the witnesses sign in front of the officiator, but I didn't know that. And Calvin also put a little cross-out when you're not allowed to. But they said everything should be okay.

Calvin video taped the whole thing using our camcorder, and my mom took photos but she didn't know how to time it right. So she kept making Luna and I fake kiss over and over again to try and take the photo of that, but then she didn't even get one.

The officiator did this whole routine about how you need to love and respect each other no matter age or whatever might happen and also said that kind of corny saying about not finding the right person but being the right person. She actually said a lot more than I would have expected, and I don't remember most of it.

Afterwards, we all had lunch at a Chinese restaurant in Los Gatos where it turns out the waitress is also from Shanghai. So she and Luna could take to each other in the Shanghai dialect.

After lunch, Luna and I went to Netflix to meet a bunch of my coworkers. Luna felt very shy about the whole thing and it actually took us a long time to get to the building because of some sort of traffic accident on Winchester Boulevard. We had to go all the way around to go maybe 200 feet.

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December 24, 2006

Alla's Final Essays

I spent most of today over at Alla's place, going over her MBA application essays. Got there around 11:30am and left around 6:30pm. I'd say we probably spent about four or five hours with me reading and offering suggestions for improvement. But these should be her final drafts, pretty much. She's getting some feedback from Ellen and Tomer as well. She also hired a professional review service for $300, but wasn't entirely happy with the results. I think I've probably spent a couple dozen hours working with her on her essays over the past few months.

We also exchanged Christmas gifts. I knew what she was getting for me because she told me not to order "anything". She gave me season five of 24. I also gave her present to her, although I'd had it ready a while ago. She didn't want it before. I got her the board game Puerto Rico. She wasn't very surprised. But I haven't played a board game with her in a long time. This might be the last board game I get her, since it's hard to find really good games and you don't want too many since you won't play them that often.

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November 24, 2006

Thanksgiving with Alla

Thanksgiving 2006 is over, and I spent the majority of the day working and continuing to spray paint my DIY subwoofer endcaps. I've found that the best results come from painting, letting it dry, then sanding, and then painting again to cover the exposed or roughened parts. Then repeat. You can use successively finer grit sandpaper and in this way end up with a very smooth (visually and physically) finished product. Then just cover with sealer. For dinner, I went to Alla's house in Fremont. I spent most of my time helping her with her business school applications, when we weren't eating. The food was really good. I had some mashed potatoes, two kinds of stuffing, turkey, potato salad, some purplish beats salad thing, and bread.

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October 10, 2006

Keelaime Evanini

I got back yesterday from Jamie and Keelan's wedding which they held at The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America's Pennsylvania Headquarters (that's a long name) this past Saturday. I had a good time catching up with them, and also Karen Cheung who died for three years. Ilya and his wife, and also Kai from Wolfe House showed up. On Sunday, I had brunch with them and their relatives before flying back to San Jose.

The hotel I stayed in, a Travelodge on Race Street near the convention center, was cheaper and closer than some of the other hotels but I suspect a little more run down. The floor didn't seem very clean, although the bathroom was very well taken care of. The front desk employees were very helpful and friendly though.

The Travelodge was close enough to the Colonial Dames building, so I walked there and back. But wearing the stupid dress shoes I ended up peeling off the skin on the back of my left foot from all the walking.

While there, I found out that Karen Kapur's boyfriend Sebastian got her interested in Magic: The Gathering and she likes it. He wants us to get together to play sometime. But Karen has a craving for Bridge, and wants to play that more, although there isn't a fourth person to play.

I made fun of Karen Cheung for dying for so long, and also found it very amusing that she and her boyfriend Steve put so much into the advice for the newlyweds contest. I think they spent like 30 minutes putting their thing together, but they did win. They won a box of chocolates. :P There was also a trivia game, and those of us who were in Deutsch Hall had some additional knowledge that helped. But then we'd also lost touch with Jamie and Keelan more recently so we didn't get some of the other answers. I did somehow remember that Keelan's first dinner for Jamie was Spaghetti though.

At the table I sat at, there was also a girl sitting next to me named Carolyn, I think, who I ended up talking to a bit because she also likes Star Trek. It was fun talking to her about things from the show. Her favorite series is Voyager though, which I didn't like as much. The stories weren't great, in my opinion, and I thought Captain Janeway was stiff and somewhat lacking in personality. Her character always seemed forced. And Tuvok was a black Vulcan (don't be politically correct to the extent that you break genetics!) and also played by someone who played a hijacker in an episode of The Next Generation. Carolyn did tell me that Neelix played a Ferengi in one of the other series. I didn't know that before.

I was very tired the whole time I was in Philadelphia though. I had trouble trying to go to sleep early on Thursday night, and I can't sleep on airplanes, and I also had trouble sleeping in the hotels. I wasn't able to get a good night's sleep until I finally got home.

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September 24, 2006

Love Fest SF 2006

I just got back from the San Francisco LoveFest, 2006. I didn't go the previous two years (when it was called Love Parade) because Shannon had her birthday parties. But this year Shannon isn't having a birthday party. I took Caltrain up to BART right to the middle of the event. Took a little under 2 hours that way. I met up with Alla and some of her friends as the parade was moving down Market Street.

The parade wasn't as good as I thought it would be. For starters, most of the people were not dancing. The crowd got larger in the afternoon, but most people just stood around. It seemed more of a San Francisco parade where people were more interested in dressing funny and strutting around than in the music and dancing. We saw a bunch of naked men walking around, and also a naked transvestite. The number of naked men far outnumbered the number of topless women. Alla's friends weren't much interested in dancing either; they just kept walking around and standing in front of floats.

The music also had good points and bad points. I would say about half the floats had music I didn't like, and the other half had decent music that was just messed up because the speakers were being overdriven and creating a lot of distortion. They also boosted the bass frequencies and at times, because the floats were so close in the plaza, it seemed like a war between DJs as they tried to out-bass their neighbors. During the parade, there were large sections without music, which also wasn't that great.

Unfortunately, it was so loud my ears were ringing within the first few minutes. I should have brought my earplugs.

There were a few floats that were good. And DJ Rap showed up to do a set later in the afternoon, which was really cool to see. She was doing a little less breakbeat and a little more drum 'n bass, so while I liked seeing her and was excited, I didn't like her music as much as her debut album. But it was the right type of music for this venue, I suppose. Alla didn't like what she did with the synthesized music at all; she said it made her feel naseous.

I did find out about the promotional tracks off Beatport though, which I was able to download for free. Not WAV format, unfortunately, but MP3. They gave out a download card if you gave a $10 donation to enter the plaza. Turns out you really didn't need to get the card in order to access the promotional tracks. Two of Alla's friends thought the $10 donation was required, partially because of how they set up the entrance, and decided not to enter the plaza.

I feel a little sick now, with a headache and I notice now a sunburn. I think the sun, the activity, and a lack of water has left me dehydrated and with a headache. I bought some Gatorade that I hope will help a little. Not sure if I will go next year. If I do, I'll have to remember to bring ear plugs.

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May 29, 2006

FanimeCon 2006

Today Shannon and I went to FanimeCon 2006. I woke up early at 7:40am because I had to go pick up Shannon from her house. Then we came back and got the usual orange juice and bagel sandwiches before taking the VTA light rail from my house up to the San Jose Convention Center. We got there around 10am, and it was actually very quiet. Lots more people showed up around lunch time.

The only thing that really interests either me or Shannon is the dealer room. Finding hard to find items at lower than usual prices (if you shop smart and have a knack for bargaining) to make up for the registration fee is what we're both interested in. The first thing we did is find gifts for the people we wanted to get stuff for. I found a set of Keroro dolls for Luna, some Sailor Moon figures and accessories for Dantam, because I missed her birthday, and a Bleach plushie for Yvonne. Shannon bought some Inuyasha figures for her friends and a Bleach plushie for Yvonne.

Afterwards, we went around and bought stuff for ourselves. Shannon got some Pokémon plushies, and a Yu-Gi-Oh! booster pack. I think she should have bought something else too at least. I found a bunch of good stuff, including Range Murata's Robot Vol. 2, a bunch of Ghost in the Shell figures, some of which I got real cheap because the dealer wanted to unload them, and a really cute Tonberry plushie.

We met up with Alla's brother, Sasha, for a few minutes and his friend Simon shortly before we left. But then came home as soon as we'd finished shopping. Shannon was a little tired from all the walking and standing, and she wanted to visit the kitties and and I wanted to play video games with her.

I challenged her to a two-player battle in Pikmin 2 where I thoroughly stomped her even though I tried to help. She didn't really want to play that anymore. I thought it was fun. So we switched over to The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures which I specifically bought so we could play together. This was lots of fun, and Shannon really liked it too. Although she has trouble defeating enemies efficiently sometimes.

We got to Death Mountain before I had to take her to meet her mom and Yvonne at some place for them to go have dinner with someone they know. Today was a long but really fun day.

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February 1, 2006

Sundance Film Festival 06

I got back last night from spending the weekend in Park City, Utah at the end of the Sundance Film Festival 2006. Each year, Netflix gives its employees some money to subsidize a trip to Sundance. I left Friday morning and got back late last night.

On its own, Park City is a sleepy ski resort town. For one week each year, there is an extra inrush of people and things become very crowded and busy. And the atmosphere changes a whole lot too, I imagine, with celebrities and sponsor events drawing a unique type of person. I felt like there were a lot of wannabes and phonies. At least Park City makes a bunch of money with their super-inflated prices for the week.

There is really only two things to do while you're there. You can either watch lots of films (which requires either a significant financial commitment, both for lodging and tickets, or a lot of patience to stand in line for extra seats) or go skiing (which also requires a large financial commitment since lift tickets are a bit expensive). I didn't really want to spend a lot of money, so I didn't do much of either. And as a result, I was kind of bored most of the time.

I didn't see any celebrities, but FOX hosted a party for Netflix that I went to on Saturday. Unfortunately, it was quite loud and my ears were ringing a lot afterwards. That's not good. The party was also a little boring because I didn't know many people, and since it was so loud my throat was strained whenever I spoke. I also didn't much like the music. It was standard fare, but nothing I really like to listen to.

The restaurants are supposedly also not that great, and a bit expensive. Samir and Jamie spent $50 one night on dinner, and said last year they didn't find any good restaurants. I ended up buying groceries and cooking in the hotel room. I also ended up spending time in the hotel room watching stuff on TV and also the first three discs of Samurai Champloo.

The two screenings that I did go to watch were the animation spotlight and the documentary award winner. The first featured about ten short animation films. Most of them were horrible. One guy spent six years camped outside a studio with his wife to make a two minute animated poem. And it wasn't very interesting. I did like, however, the following: Jasper Morello, Gopher Broke, Fumi and the Bad Luck Foot, and Los ABC's ¬°Que Vivan Los Muertos!.

The documentary winner was God Grew Tired of Us. Apparently, a number of documentaries have been made about the Lost Boys of Sudan. Maybe they keep making documentaries until someone will pick one up for mass distribution. I remember watching some stuff about them on the news before, so about half of its content wasn't new to me. This latest one was clearly directed by a non-Sudanese person, because a large part of it contains ethnocentric humor.

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December 25, 2005

Christmas Eve Presents

Since Iris has to leave tomorrow, we opened all our presents tonight. I got a digital camera from my mom and dad, which has 10x optical zoom. That's much better than the current digital camera I have. I also got some clothes from someone. Hsiuli got me fancy bathroom soap. Calvin got me a couple of books and also the Battlestar Galactica SciFi miniseries. Iris and Dennis eventually got me stuff I like: a stuffed Chococat and Batman Begins. Shannon and Yvonne got me the Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi DVD collection.

I got my mom some perfume, my dad some noise cancellation headphones, Hsiuli a picture frame, Spencer a GameBoy Advance game, Calvin the Ghost World comic and Diana Krall's Love Scenes album, Dennis a drumming DVD, and Iris two CDs: Tori Amos' Tales of a Librarian and Sarah McLachlan's Surfacing.

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November 25, 2005

Thanksgiving at Spencer's

Spence, who is one of my coworkers at Netflix invited me to have Thanksgiving dinner with him and some other people he knows. There were a total of nine adults and four kids (approx. ages 2 and 4). I bought a big tub of vanilla ice cream because that's what Spence asked me to bring; apparently he didn't really mean a big tub, but just a regular sized carton. It was a pretty good dinner, and we talked about some fun and interesting stuff. I was the youngest adult there; I guess the next youngest was around 30's or mid-30's. Julie, Spence's wife, has dozens of different kitchen and dining items to serve any conceivable need.

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Pre-Thanksgiving Sleepover

Last night Shannon and Yvonne came over to sleep over. Yvonne didn't do much except read. She brought and finished some fantasy book by Mercedes someone, and also The Lost World. She also read my copy of Fight Club. Shannon started reading volume one of Azumanga Daioh.

In the morning, Shannon and I watched Star Wars: Episode III. She hadn't seen it before; Yvonne didn't want to stop reading to watch, even though she hasn't seen it yet. She'll have to watch it some other time. What's interesting is that if you consider President Bush as Emperor Palpatine, the movie takes on a very specific political stance. One which I happen to agree with. We also watched some of the special features, which made Mei-Ling say that she feels bad about watching pirated copies because they do so much work to make the movie.

Shannon went on a hugging rampage with Asuka and Niea. She kept trying to hug them a lot, but was usually holding them wrong so they would wriggle away. Chie kept hiding under the beds, but he did come out last night while I was sleeping, and also again around noon. I took him down so they could pet him, but he got scared and ran away back upstairs to hide inside my bed again.

After we finished watching Star Wars, Shannon and I played some Magic: The Gathering. I beat her with my deck so we swapped, and then she won with my deck. So she started to redo her deck but got annoyed at it because she picked too many cards. She doesn't know how to decide between cards, and always just tries to pick cards that are good without thinking about strategy or cost. That works in simple games like Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh but doesn't work in Magic.

While we were doing that, Mei-Ling watched Hero, and Yvonne started to watch with her after she finished reading. Then they left to have Thanksgiving dinner with some people they know.

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November 20, 2005

Making Tribbles

I'm hosting a potluck next month that turned into a Star Trek theme party. So I want to make it as much Star Trek-like as possible. I failed to win any tribbles, tricorders, or phasers off eBay for a reasonable price, and I wasn't able to find any Star Trek items at the mall today. I ended up buying some balloons, paper mache, and furry yarn to make my own tribbles. I'm going to shove them into a cabinet and watch when someone opens it.

I also want to have some sort of costume. I wasn't able to find any uniforms or Vulcan ears or anything like that. I ended up buying some weird RBK (or Reebok) sports clothing that is generic enough that I could pull off a Vger Probe, Binar, or one of those two-color-faced characters that I don't know the name of. Most likely I'll go with Vger Probe, as that doesn't require me to paint my face or wear a strange mask. Technically I should shave my head, but I'll just wear contacts instead.

I didn't realize the clothing was so skintight when I bought them though. So I'll also have to wear the bottom-only bathrobe that I have, over the pants. Still fits the part, although it is white instead of gray. Maybe I can find some gray fabric instead. Might be cheap enough from the fabric store.

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Hocus Pocus

Silke recommended I watch Hocus Pocus right before halloween. Apparently, since it is a Disney movie and I put it into my Netflix queue around Halloween, I ended up having to wait quite a bit for it to arrive. No loss, because the movie is okay but not great. The plot is kind of formulaic and predictable, but at least it was entertaining to watch. Sarah Jessica Parker does an excellent job acting as a ditz.

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October 19, 2005

Pirates of Emerson

The Pirates of Emerson is a haunted house type thing in Fremont. IBM rented the entire thing out for the night for all IBMers to go for free, and to bring friends and family. So Alla invited me and I went with her, Silke, and Georges. It was actually lots of fun. There was a haunted house, where Alla and Silke got a lot of surprises. Also a weird strobe maze where the strobing makes it hard to see where a wall is. And finally a sort of 3-D haunted house with less scaring and more 3-D effects.

Alla's mom also showed up, although she didn't go through any of the stuff with us. Silke was very interested in knowing how the 3-D glasses work, and we figured out that it acts like a lot of tiny prisms and refracts different colors of the light at different angles. That forces different colors to appear like they are coming from a different point in space, thus causing a 3-D effect when multiple colors are involved.

Alla got a big scare at the beginning when a pirate came up behind her. We had a few run-ins with that pirate later on, because Alla is an easy target for jokes and scaring. Even Silke scared her a few times just while going through the haunted houses.

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September 17, 2005

Katrina Donation Raffles

A few AV companies are holding Katrina donation raffles. So instead of donating directly to a charity and taking a tax deduction, you can enter a raffle to win something (raffles involving non-charity organizations are considered gambling and as such are not tax deductible) but still have 100% of your donation sent to the organizations like the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, or Save the Children. Here are some links: Rotel RMB-1075, Epiphany Audio 12-12, pro gear + cash, Talisman SE. These are all legitimate. Be wary of scam sites claiming to accept donations or holding raffles.

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September 5, 2005

Hanging Out With Jeannie

Today was a hanging-out-with-Jeannie day. We went to see The Skeleton Key and we both thought it would be one of those jumpy scary movies. But I'm kind of glad it wasn't because although it was kind of freaky scary in the beginning, it turned into a puzzle type of thriller later on and so didn't leave me feeling as scared afterwards. It's actually a pretty interesting movie because there's a lot of unique stuff going on that has to do with New Orleans and the history there. And it isn't too predictable. There is a plot twist or two which I doubt most people would be able to predict. Unfortunately, I think everything shot in this movie is now buried under water.

Afterwards, Jeannie found some running sneakers she needed to buy, at like the third or fourth store we looked at. She's pretty picky about her running shoes because she runs so much and is going to be in a relay race sometime in the next month or two. She doesn't like Nike sneakers and only likes Adidas. She was looking for a particular sneaker model, but instead found one that is similar.

Then we went up to a Greek Festival at a church way up near San Mateo. It was pretty cool just to sit around, people watch, talk about things, and eat some Greek food. The food was pretty good. I didn't get to try all the stuff I would have liked to. Too expensive. But it was kind of like a fund raiser for the church. I made a joke about the traditional folk dance they were doing. You'd have to ask Jeannie if you want to know what it was.

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July 6, 2005

Fireworks

On Monday, Fourth of July, I went to downtown San Jose with Alla, Georges, Sasha, and Lana to watch the fireworks. We met Aarti, Paul, and Thomas there. There were tons of people there but it didn't matter much because it didn't get too crowded and we could easily see the fireworks in the sky. It was pretty cool how the large explosions shook your entire body, but it would have been nicer if we weren't downtown. The street lights remained on, a few planes flew overhead, and we had to sit on the street.

One thing that was funny was when we saw a mounted officer pass by and his horse went to the bathroom right there in the middle of the street. He had to get off and hold onto his horse while using a dustpan and big plastic bag to scoop it up.

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May 22, 2005

Designing Women

Yesterday, the local chapter of SWE held an event called Designing Women for the Girl Scouts of Santa Clara County. About twelve girls showed up, and the "scientific" activities were supposed to get them interested in science and technology. I was working a table with Rita and someone I don't know named Albert making ice cream. It was lots of fun.

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February 7, 2005

Birthday Party

I had my birthday party today. My real birthday was yesterday, the 5th, but I celebrated today. Szu-Huey cooked a lot of stuff and a bunch of my friends came over: Shannon + Yvonne, Mei-Ling, Alla, Stephen and his new girlfriend Michelle, Vandy, Everend, Scott, Karen, and Ellen. We ate a lot of stuff and then had chocolate blueberry cake. Yvonne got to play with the big foot-long matches I bought to light the furnace; she and Stephen used them to light the candles on my cake.

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January 1, 2005

New Year 2005

Last night I went to Pedro's new apartment with Szu-Huey to countdown to the new year. There were about 15 people there, but I didn't know everyone. He showed us some weird Ali G TV show that was kind of stupid. Then we counted down and Martin had bought ribbon blowers instead of Kazoos so everyone was disappointed. It was raining really hard and was really windy yesterday.

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November 4, 2004

Halloween

On Sunday, I took Shannon trick-or-treating with Szu-Huey, David and Arthur, and McKenzie (all Shannon's neighbors). Shannon wanted to be a clown but Mei-Ling had donated the costume and wig. So instead she thought about being the rainbow-colored coat guy (Joseph) from the bible. She has a rainbow bathrobe that she could have worn. But eventually she decided to wear jeans and a weird fur vest over a red shirt. Since David and Arthur were pirates, everyone else thought she was a pirate too.

McKenzie was a pink unicorn with multi-colored mane and tail. Her hood got way too hot for her while we were out, so she stopped wearing it. We went to a lot of houses, but about half of the houses were darkened out or people didn't answer even though we saw lights on inside. McKenzie got tired first, so we eventually dropped her off back home. Then after we went to see FaFa at Thomas' house, David got tired. So after stopping at Shannon's abacus teacher's house, we all went back home.

Shannon was very generous and gave some candy to some guests Mei-Ling had, and also to Szu-Huey. Szu-Huey doesn't like chocolates, only gummy stuff. So she didn't want most of the candy. Then Shannon and I played Blades of Avernum. She didn't realize that she had to train her characters after gaining levels. Which is part of why she was having a hard time.

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October 18, 2004

Sally Ride Festival

Yesterday I volunteered with IBM to help run a Lego Robots workshop for the Sally Ride Festival at Stanford University. Sally Ride was there and she gave a keynote speech. Girls (and at least one boy) grades 5-8 showed up to do workshops designed to get them interested in science and technology. It was fun, but the room was really cramped and the workshop was only 45 minutes long. So not as interesting or fun as it could have been.

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Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival

Szu-Huey and I went to the Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival on Saturday. There were tons and tons of people there. Unfortunately, it took 1.5 hours to get there, and another 1.5 hours to get back out. Normally it would only take 30 minutes.

I was expecting more pumpkin stuff. But really the festival is a place for hundreds of vendors to show off their stuff. Stuff that is really expensive. I don't think there was anything worth buying there at those prices. The only vendor that really interested me was by Red Wolf. However, his paintings, while beautiful, cost thousands and thousands of dollars.

The food was really expensive too. A tiny baked potato with some butter and bacon on it cost $4. Same for a turkey leg or a tiny basket of nachos. A bread bowl of clam chowder was $5. Szu-Huey bought a small loaf of pumpkin bread for $3.

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October 2, 2004

Love Parade SF

Today, Love Parade comes from Germany to the US. Perhaps the most famous of all electronic music parades, Love Parade is an annual event in Berlin. This year San Francisco will host Love Parade and dozens of DJs and floats and maybe a million people. Love Parade San Francisco begins a Mission & Beale, and goes 1.5 miles to Terry Francois. You're not supposed to stand and watch; you are supposed to mix in with the entire parade and dance.

However, I won't be attending this year's Love Parade. Maybe next year. Mei-Ling, my cousin (I did not know this until recently), is going to be away for work so I will be baby-sitting Shannon and Yvonne. It isn't much of a big deal for me, since I'm not into live venues so much anyway. I prefer to listen to music at home where it sounds good.

We'll probably end up watching some Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water and playing Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles. Yvonne also has to finish her homework, so I'll be helping her with science. And Shannon wants to play Stratego and build something using the Radio Shack Sensorlab I got her for her birthday.

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