Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Little Feet

Twinkie decided to wake me up about an hour and a half before my alarm this morning...sometime between 6:30 and 7 am - not my favorite hours of the morning. But what this really enabled me to do was to finally go to Starbucks in the morning and get some real caffeine for my class. I was playing with the "My Starbucks" app for my iPhone that lets you create and save custom drink orders - so what did I have this morning? Raspberry Chocolate Truffle Espresso :) It was so yummy - it was like drinking a really great truffle. Except they made it "extra hot" for some reason...I don't know why. Next time I'll have to create a cold drink (maybe the peppermint mocha).

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Last of the mobile

Had a good day teaching - I'm looking forward the to weekend already though. I got my trip booked too - looks like the end of the month is clear so I can start counting down the days until I'm back in the city with Bunny! Unfortunately, I discovered that my car's headlights are no longer functioning for some reason - so I'll have to have that checked out on Thursday morning. Hopefully it's a quick fix and I won't be missing my car for too long.

Monday, September 28, 2009

A hard day's night

Sometimes working until 8:30PM gets to me. I don't have any issues with any of my students, but after a while I just want to finish up and get home. Not a big deal because tutoring is still pretty much a blast. I never really expected that I'd enjoy sitting around doing different kinds of math all day, but I do. Is it something I want to make permanent? Not really - but it's always really nice to know that I have this skill.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Ceiling Sailors

I've had this mobile for as long as I can remember; It's pretty old and a lot of the sailboats are broken or missing, but it's one of the most comforting things in my room. I took a few photos of it as it rotated and with different focus points, so that will probably be some of the photos for this week. This week I'm preparing a review for my class and planning my next trip to San Francisco.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Chocolate Bacon Crunch Bar. Chocolate. and Bacon. for Dessert. Behind an unmarked door at 435 Fairfax Ave. in Los Angeles, CA exists a restaurant called Animal that serves this amazing dessert. The treat is actually quite approachable, despite the mention of a breakfast side dish in the title. The bottom layer is hazelnut-chocolate, the middle layer is peanut-butter-choclate with roasted peanuts, and the top layer is a pure chocolate ganache, the whole treat is topped with bacon bits and then it's lightly bruleed and served over a creme-anglaise sauce. Delicious is an understatement - the salty bacon flavors compliment the chocolates in a way that I could never have expected and everything holds together so well. Joe, Eman, Tania and I came to visit Animal at midnight (it's open until 2AM on the weekends) and we all left with our minds open to new taste perspectives. I hope we can get back someday and have some dinner there (a few of their options are a little weird...but a place that serves Canadian-classic cuisine Poutine can't be too bad).

Friday, September 25, 2009

Finally Settled!

Finally! Joe, Eman, and I played three rounds of "Settlers of Catan" tonight (see bonus photo of our gameboard below!). What a great game! Despite Joe deciding to teach us how to play by teaming up with Eman to beat me (really really beat me), we had a really great time. Settlers reminds me a lot of playing "Landslide" with my dad and sisters when we were younger. The basic concept of the game is pretty simple - gather resources, build roads and settlements, trade to get what you need with other players; but the deeper layers: development cards, longest road, largest army, and the ever threatening thief token create an exciting and competitive atmosphere for the game. The games theoretically could be very quick (the box claims less than an hour) but we started around 9PM and didn't leave Eman's apartment until 3:30AM. Granted, we did take a break at midnight to get a tasty treat (see tomorrow's post for more details). Below: the gameboard and cards set up during our first game

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Change Happens

Not a little change - HUGE change. There is a difference in my classroom now that is so significant (in my opinion) that a person watching on Tuesday wouldn't have believed they were in the same class today. Adopting a method of teaching that was well received in my own college math courses led to a very successful class session today; subsequent tutoring also validated the effectiveness of this method (I'm really the only one who would be tutoring my own students, and that went well too). I rewarded myself with a Big Mac & a milkshake, and am getting these posts up super late as I watch the Woot!-Off. Unfortunately I do have some things to deal with regarding my car accident in July - but I don't want to detail that here. Overall, I had a fantastic and wonderful day. Also, please note that I fixed the photo from June 7, 2009, "One More Day in the Bay" because the contrast was horrible.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Prepare for everything

I found a new resource to help me plan my class sessions; I'm expecting them to be very successful and to get the class back on track. I spent the majority of my time this evening working on them; Today was a really long day and I didn't get home until after 9:30 PM though - but it's worth it when I'm helping people understand what's going on. I don't enjoy when people clearly don't care, but there's not too much I can really do about that after a certain point. There's a great deal of satisfaction associated with a long day of tutoring, because (most) everyone I work with seems to really learn something when the sit down with me, be it mathematical or social (mostly mathematical though). For the time being, it's a pretty great feeling. Another photo from the same set as the last two - the tunnel looked really cool (didn't smell too great though).

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Not the best of days

Without going into too much detail - Teaching is a learning experience for me too, and one thing I'm learning is that what works in some situations and for some people doesn't necessarily translate for everyone. As such, I'm going to be changing some of my approaches for the next time in the hopes that I can be a better source of knowledge for my students. Feel free to read this as: I had a stressful day, but I think I can make it better. I felt like this little guy for a while though.

Monday, September 21, 2009

int main()

So I got an A on my quiz - it was really simple albeit a little maddening. The goal of the quiz was to make a program that can do simple multiplication - it was supposed to look like this on the screen: "Please enter two numbers: 2 3 "2 times 3 equals 6" Well, writing that bit of code was simple, getting the output to show 2 and 3 next to each other? While it may seem obvious, it's not necessarily intuitive that the space bar can be used instead of the enter key when entering values into a windows console window. This threw me off for a few minutes because nobody had ever told me that before, ever. Everything else is going great and my tutoring kids on Mondays are awesome. I can't believe I didn't post this sooner - it's artificial turf, but still way cool - over near Fort Point in San Francisco. See the satellite location here

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Create your own reality

Today was spent doing very little - some TV, some studying, nothing significantly strenuous. I also re-wired my car's stereo with some ferrite cores and a ground-loop isolator so that I can charge my iPhone and play music off of it at the same time without interference - it's awesome. My dad's off on a business trip for a few days and I've been preparing more stuff for my class. I also had a little bit of studying to do for my C++ course - our quiz on how to program function calls should be relatively simple. I really love the parking spots at the garage near North Beach in San Francisco - this one comes from the night I graduated college (May 22, 2009)

Saturday, September 19, 2009 2.0

So I've updated the site recently and then basically left it idling for a week (this post comes on 9/25 so I'm going back in time). I bought a new board game today - The Settlers of Catan - the basic premise is to play with two or three other people and colonize a randomly generated island in every game. Unfortunately, I don't have anyone to play with at the moment (Eman and Joe are both busy), but there will be some great pictures of the set up next weekend I'm sure. We also didn't go to a classic car show in San Bernadino, but we managed to do a whole lot of nothing in the Pasadena area. I'm really happy with the new design of my website - I think it looks a lot cleaner and less claustrophobic than it did when it was in high contrast white-on-black. Let me know in the comments. This photo shows the very randomly placed little body of water in Golden Gate Park opposite the ferns posted earlier this week. It was strange to find this tucked so far back into the park, but I'm glad we did.

Friday, September 18, 2009


Eman and I went to another improv show tonight and got to meet the hosts of The Totally Rad Show! Every week I see them on my computer screen, but to get to actually hang out with them for a little while was really awesome. The show was funny, but the meet & greet afterward really made the night. (from left to right: Jeff Cannata, Eman, Me, Alex Albrecht, Dan Trachtenberg)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Class 2!

Class was a lot better today I think - creating a collaborative atmosphere works better than just trying to lecture for 2 hours. I was also told by one of my tutoring students "I feel so smart!" as we were working through problems. While I may not have initially thought of teaching/tutoring as something I really want to do, the rewards are substantial as hearing him say that really made my day. Making someone realize their own potential is a fantastic feeling. These ferns were in Golden Gate Park in a fairly hidden little pathway. Bunny took the photo as we were walking along with Teenie a couple weeks ago.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Reading C++ Does Make Sense!

We finally worked on some actual coding in my C++ class, which was a welcome change of pace from trying to correct errors without knowing the syntax. Tutoring went well as always, and I'm getting ready for my second class tomorrow - which should help a lot with my stress levels. As long as I stay comfortable and prepared, I shouldn't have any problems. While I studied, Twinkie slept

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I taught my Calculus B class for the first time today - not only was this the first class of the semester, but also my first class ever! Nervousness had set in, but I did a lot of preparation before hand, and while I definitely have some room to improve, I think my class and I will get along just fine. As an experience it was definitely a lot of new sensations - I've spent my entire life sitting in their position, so I have a good idea of what I looked like from their perspective. But I can use that to my advantage so that Thursday will go more smoothly.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Tennis is an underrated sport

I was trying to catch the Men's finals match of the US Open of Tennis this afternoon - but NOBODY WAS BROADCASTING IT! I had to go to work and missed the last match (Del Potro won), I was actually kind of disappointed and annoyed that football takes precedence over international tournaments. Class and work were fine and uneventful though. More fun with lasers and interesting results liven up any day though.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Bring me the blue pages

Sunday was spent mulling over Calculus notes to prepare for my foray into educational instruction on Tuesday. The rest of the time was spent doing other arduous tasks that I don't feel like recounting (or remember). I did decide to finally buy "Myst" for the iPhone - a game I played on a computer (it was a cd-rom!) back when I was like 11 years old, and the game's now nearly 20 years old! It's perfectly suited for the iPhone and it's fun to play through the old puzzles I vaguely recall that gave me so much trouble when I was younger.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Saturdays with Joe

It's really fun driving all the way out to Azusa Pacific to pick up Joe for the day. Actually, I could barely type that without giggling - APU is in the most dead-end place I can think of - there's literally nothing in Azusa, which is 20 miles east or so of Pasadena. But I like seeing Joe and we had a nice time getting sushi for lunch, watching a terrible movie that I thought was funny when I was 12, and then messing around with my Mac for a while. We tried to find a copy of "Settlers of Catan" - a board game that I really need to get my hands on soon - but to no avail. Perhaps I'll find a copy in the coming weeks though. Driving him back to school was an adventure, I nearly got "banned from campus" for my little tiny car's engine being a little noisy - oh well. Just for fun - a really great picture of Twinkie (again).

Friday, September 11, 2009

I Don't Do Fridays

My Friday was spent in leisure, as I believe Fridays should be spent. I bought an app for the iPhone called "Bloom" over the weekend, and it's a really great little piece of software - the basic premise is a color changing background that modifies different tones, and if you tap the screen in different areas, sounds play and slowly being to loop. What results is some really pretty ambient sounds that will generate new loops if left idle. It's really calming music, and I thought it would be nice to have a little speaker system for my iPhone to play when I feel like zoning out in my room. Unfortunately, there seems to be no such thing as an affordable iPhone compatible speaker dock that doesn't look like a child's toy. We have an extra set of speakers in the house that I tried hooking up to my phone, but the interference from the cellular antenna was so loud that it's not worth using. My search will now expand to the internet - and Best Buy won't get a sale out of their 10% off coupons. This little whistling duck from Safari West always makes me smile - he was really cute and actually whistled.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Calculus Can Be Fun!

I got to tutor calculus for the first time today (not-including the first time I tried without preparing beforehand). I actually had a really good time with it, and remembering how to do different operations (with the benefit of having studied earlier in the day) made me feel great. It was a nice confidence boost to prepare for actually teaching the subject - I still have a lot of notes to make before I start though. That's basically what Tuesdays and Thursdays will be like from now on - so expect some thoughts on how class went. This is a nice oldie photo - back when the Jeep only had 99,999 miles on it - 95,000 miles or so later and it decided to quit on us.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Everyone Loves Bunnies!

What I don't like about being in classes again (I apologize if I sound arrogant): -Taking intro-level classes for computer programming when I'm probably a more advanced user than 90% of the people in the class (I accept that there are people in the class that know more than I do, just not a lot). -Having to leave my house 30+ minutes early to find parking at a campus less than 5 minutes away from my house -Being on a campus with more people under the age of 20 than over. -Not actually learning anything within the first 2 weeks of school. Other than that, my day was pretty good - I'm having a lot of fun with tutoring and am slowly (read: very slowly) preparing for that first day of teaching next week. The bunnies are from the pet store at the Serramonte mall in Daly City - so cute!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Need a Break?

The jeep needs a new transmission - awesome. But, after 194,400+ miles, you can't really blame it for wanting a bit of a break right? The rest of the day was pretty much spent hanging out with Twinkie until my parents got home tonight. He really doesn't do much - he follows me into whatever room I'm walking to, and then falls asleep until I go into another room. The flowers were in Golden Gate Park on Sunday, composition by Bunny, photo by me.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Let me tell you a story

Today when I woke up, there was a nagging voice in the back of my mind telling me that I shouldn't be leaving San Francisco. After a nice lunch with Bunny and my family at the Cheesecake Factory, I started my long journey back home. As I drove down the 101-S, I hit some mild traffic near Stanford, but nothing major. All I was hoping to do was get home before the darkness came and I was stuck going up the grapevine at 8pm. Perhaps I was optimistic since I arrived in Gilroy in just over an hour - but as I cruised on I thought I was doing fine. Little did I know that just a few minutes later I'd stall out on the 152-E and have to pull off of the road, confused and scared. When I finished talking to my dad about what happened - I realized that I no longer had any torque in the Jeep - a nice v-6 engine should be able to make it up a hill, but I couldn't. I continued on and quickly realized that my engine wasn't shifting properly, and frequent phone calls to my dad had us hoping that I was dealing with a messed-up fuel injector, so when I reached Kettleman City I put in some high-octane gas and an octane booster, but to no avail. I stalled again while going about 70 in the fast lane (I had been passing a semi-truck) and this time had to pull off the road to the left (in the dirt median) to re-start the car. That was a scary experience because getting back on the freeway from the dirt was tough with no torque to propel me forward (luckily cars moved out of the way and I was able to get on fine). Finally, I reached the grapevine around 7:30pm and prayed I would be able to make it home. Cruising at a brisk 45mph, I made my way up the grapevine in the truck's lane, which was even scarier when some trucks actually passed me! I made it home fine around 9pm, and that's the end of the story basically. Tomorrow I'll find out what's really wrong with it, but I don't really want to drive it anymore. Note: I had a fantastic weekend and while today's travel-nightmares were unfavorable to say the least, I'm still very happy that I went to San Francisco this weekend. I love it there and loved being able to spend time with Bunny :)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Wandering in the Park

Bunny, Teenie and I took a really nice stroll in the park this afternoon - after a nice 2 hour journey from Daly City into San Francisco. What a nightmare - traffic in the park was horrific, traffic on 19th was horrific, which I can only assume means traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge was unbearable. After we finally found parking, we meandered around taking photos and watching the squirrels (unfortunately we didn't bring any peanuts), and we shared those little treats from the Fifth Floor after we took this photo near the totem pole. Teenie liked my sunglasses so much we went took her downtown to get her own pair, so now we're matchy!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Second Taste at the Fifth Floor

Bunny and I had a date at "The Fifth Floor" restaurant at the Hotel Palomar in San Francisco tonight. With a stroke of serendipity, we were seated at the same table (#16) as we sat at on my birthday this year. Just like before, the food was phenomenal, and our server, Matt, was great too. Our appetizers were lightly grilled calamari & a crab cappuccino (crab bisque with crab foam on top), followed by our entrees; tea-smoked duck breast and slow-roasted pork belly. For dessert we ordered the flourless chocolate cake with coconut foam and popcorn ice-cream (which tasted like peanut butter or caramel corn depending on taste pallets) which was delicious. But then, Matt surprised us with a free dessert! We received an almond tart with almond ice cream (they called it bitter-almond, but it was exceptionally sweet) and some cherry/cranberries which were really tasty too. And even after all of that food (not to mention the little amuse bouche and the tasty red-wine bread before we even ordered), we got this little box of treats to take with us! Bunny and I really love this restaurant and can't wait to go back again - it's a wonderful special-occasion restaurant. We did a bit of shopping this afternoon - I got some shield-style sunglasses (the kind with a single lens, very fashionable now), and this morning I helped move some stuff around at the storage facility. A very nice start to this weekend, and I hope the rest goes as well too.

Friday, September 4, 2009

A Driving Day

So while I'm driving to San Francisco for the weekend, I have some time to talk about Snow Leopard for my Mac Mini. I mentioned it a few days ago - so I won't dwell on it too much, but it is a good system update and for the $10 it cost me as part of my Mac purchase earlier this year, I'm very satisfied with it. It's basically a collection of tweaks for the Mac that make things run a bit smoother, but to be honest I'm already happy as a clam with my Mini to begin with, so this upgrade doesn't really offer a specifically noticeable change for me. Tonight Bunny, Teenie, my parents and I went to Kitaro for dinner, yum! I'm up here for the weekend so these posts are being written a few days late - hope everyone has a great Labor Day weekend. It's really weird to think that only a year ago I was driving to Reno with my dad :)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

1 Year Ago

The full moon is a perfect way to usher in the new year for (please be lenient on the quality; no tripod + my first attempt at astral-photography = a little grainy) I said just about everything I wanted to about this blog last night, but I'm so happy to have made it full circle with this project. It's come a long way from where it was, and I think it's improved significantly, but I'd really love to get some feedback on how you've enjoyed this blog over the last year, so please leave me a comment (or 2 if you've really enjoyed it).

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

That's All Folks!

Today is the end of Year 1 at What a journey this has been. When I started this blog, I thought "what a cool idea taking a photo every day would be" - obviously my thoughts on the matter have changed since then; taking an interesting photo everyday is worthwhile, but I don't always see/have the time to take that interesting shot. Nevertheless, this blog has opened my eyes to what has become a solid hobby unlike others that have waned over the years. I appreciate everyone who has contributed to this blog as well; notably my guest photographers Bunny, Christina, and my dad, all of whom have been featured here in various posts. The picture today is actually pretty important and relevant to this post - it's the first picture I took (and saved) with my k850i cell phone - the one that started this blog. Taken from the top of the Loyola Village steps on Lone Mountain at USF. Also interesting thing to note: the domed building in the photo is where Bunny and I had a field trip when we first met (we had formal introductions later that day). I do have some things to say about today, and actually, it's a rather significant announcement: As of September 15th, 2009, I'll be starting a real teaching job for a Calculus class! While I was apprehensive at first, I know that teaching will be a great experience and for the most part I'm looking forward to it. I also had my first quiz in Visual Basic class today - in all honesty, anyone who's ever actually used a Windows operating system probably could have passed this test, but an A is still an A. Please note that I'll be continuing for the foreseeable future. I really like working on this project, and I hope you'll continue to read it. I also want to announce that I'm investigating a means to have this blog's first year printed in either a hard or soft-cover edition, and would be happy to respond to any interest. I've had my work printed before, and at the very least I'm looking forward to having a tactile copy of all of the work and time I've spent on this blog. **Rough estimates suggest a ~200-page book at ~$85, though that may change depending on the number of orders placed (but I'm not sure about that).**

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Sky is Yellow

The Station Fire is getting closer to the valley, so when the winds shift the smoky clouds come over us. It was raining a little bit of ash for a little while, and this evening the sky was bright yellow and the sun was actually a really pretty pink/red color. I got to install Snow Leopard, which, while not necessarily a greatly noticeable upgrade on the surface, has already made itself recognizable if only in how quickly programs load on what was already a fast computer. This afternoon I was also playing with timed exposures and lasers, but that will have to wait for another day.