Friday, December 31, 2010

Reflections on 2010

The year was full of wonderful times with Bunny, my family, and my friends. What really amazes me, as I sit here looking back over the last 365 days, is how astonishingly fast time seems to have gone. As always, thank you for reading this and good luck in the new year!

There are so many things that I was able to experience and enjoy through this year, I don’t think it’s possible to remember them all (despite so many good photos to look through). Here’s some of the highlights from my 2010:

The Year in Review 2010

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Today's activity was baking!  Eman and I made the Ninjabread Men cookies and a mega-bread man for them to battle.  Even with two different recipes, the cookies came out great and were so much fun to make. Cleanup wasn't quite as enjoyable, but the afternoon was a blast.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Totally Rad Cache

In October, one of the internet tv shows I watch, The Totally Rad Show, featured geocaching and a specific cache called "The Old Lunchbox" located in the Hollywood Hills.  Emmanuel and I both watch the show so I thought a good activity for us to do over the holidays would be to visit this very cache.  Here's how it went:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Under a Cherry Moon

From NASAWhy red?
A quick trip to the Moon provides the answer: Imagine yourself standing on a dusty lunar plain looking up at the sky. Overhead hangs Earth, nightside down, completely hiding the sun behind it. The eclipse is underway. You might expect Earth seen in this way to be utterly dark, but it's not. The rim of the planet is on fire! As you scan your eye around Earth's circumference, you're seeing every sunrise and every sunset in the world, all of them, all at once. This incredible light beams into the heart of Earth's shadow, filling it with a coppery glow and transforming the Moon into a great red orb.
Back on Earth, the shadowed Moon paints newly fallen snow with unfamiliar colors--not much luster, but lots of beauty.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Headlight enhancement phase 1

First modification: replace the standard running lights with LED bulbs. Much nicer color than crummy incandescent. All of the color reflecting on the lamp are our Christmas lights.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Surprise on my car

As I was leaving for work yesterday, this is who I found relaxing on the door

 One more picture after the break

More Geocaching

Caches found during Thanksgiving weekend with Emmanuel near Mentryville.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

So I got this new computer over the weekend

I have this project that I'm starting to work on and realized how much I would benefit from having a second dedicated computer in my room to work on side by side.  Well, it's me, so I didn't just go buy a windows computer (even though that's what I needed).  Instead I got this:

 Yes, I bought a 13" MacBook Pro.  It really is going to be used for a specific purpose (the very first thing I'm doing with it is installing Windows 7).  But, after it's served its purpose I'll get used to using a notebook again - I've been using a desktop for so long with my iPad as a supplement it'll be an interesting journey to go back and forth between two powerful machines (and my iPad will still be used a lot).

One more pic of it next to my monster monitor:

Monday, November 8, 2010

What is Geocaching?

Edit: Nov 9, 2010 - the app I used for Geocaching can be found here iTunes App Store

Over the weekend, Eman and I tried something called Geocaching.  Basically the idea is that it's treasure hunting in real life.  People have been hiding "caches" for years, they're usually some small container with a pencil and slip of paper inside.  The caches are hidden in both dense urban areas or in the middle of nowhere wilderness.  The goal of geocaching is to go exploring in areas where you already live, work, play, etc., and discover something new.  Once you find a cache, you write your name and when you found it (and fill in appropriate internet logs if you're really interested) and put it back for someone else to find.

So we headed down to South Pasadena and looked up a few caches.  The first one we tried to find ended up in nothing, and we're pretty sure the cache wasn't even there anymore (it was also really close to some houses, basically in someone's driveway) so we went off for a different one.

We wandered around this area and read the hint "you're hot, you're hot, you're hot...oops now you're cold!" and this is what we saw:

Monday, November 1, 2010

Just Checking In

My second class for National started last week so I've been working on some papers and such, but I wanted to wish everyone a happy November!
I'm surprised how quickly the year is going, it seems like just yesterday I was boarding the plane to head back East for the summer, and, oh wait, I'm doing that next week again.

I'm really excited for a trip to North Carolina; it will be another test of how useful my iPad and iPhone can be in a real-world situation (since I'll have some homework to finish).  I also bought some noise-canceling headphones for the plane ride; there will be a nice review of those after I get back (or maybe while I'm still there?).  I've also been tinkering around with some database software, Bento 3, but I probably need a bit of time before I'm ready to actually do anything useful with it.
Anyway, in the meantime, here's a photo of a mousepad I crafted for my glass desktop.  A laser mouse can't track on glass, so I made one out of the same carbon-fiber vinyl I use to accent my car (and the iPad shell I made).  Well, it works great and looks slick, so here it is with my Logitech MX1100 mouse and Apple keyboard.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New at your Apple Store

I was investigating some new hardware and software at the nearest Apple store the other day, and took some pictures of their newest products.
First up is the new Apple TV.  The remote sitting next to it is about 4 inches long, so you really get a sense of how tiny this thing is.  Basically it's the perfect device for someone who's fully tuned-in to the iTunes lifestyle.  If you have movies, music, and photos on your computer, or want an easy way to rent movies and tv shows from the iTunes store (as well as Netflix and Youtube integration), then this thing would be perfect for your living room at $99.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

New Landline

I just finished hooking up my new landline/speakerphone.  The v-techLS6245 is a great expandable telephone system that lets me connect and dial/answer my cell phone via bluetooth.  This means I have a robust speakerphone (much louder) on my desk at all times, and I can hold the handset instead of my cellphone (which gets spotty reception in most of my bedroom).

It looks really snazzy; the entire thing is touch sensitive (like my iPhone) so while I can't exactly dial without looking (sort of...) it fits in perfectly with my room's decor (seen in front of my speaker and monitor).  

Friday, October 15, 2010

First Step for my Credential

Last Weekend's Project

We used to have these terribly huge bushes on one end of our house.  They were in the way from everything, and the pathway to our side alleyway was just a patch of dirt.  When we move out trashcans out onto the street, they have to come through the garage because the bushes blocked the pathway.  A few weeks ago my mom and dad decided they didn't want those bushes anymore, so we had them cut down.  Ultimately, what happened was that my dad decided to undertake the project of pouring concrete down and connecting our side alley to the driveway.  What does over a thousand pounds of concrete and around 14 hours of work net you? See below.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

iPad Case Comparisons

When I bought my iPad in April, I loved how it felt in my hands.  The aluminum and metal was a beautiful respite from the plasticky iPhone 3G I was using at the time.  Fast forward a few days after that, and I started to become terrified that I might mess up that wonderful aluminum shell.  So I bought Apple's ridiculously overpriced case (top left).

After putting my iPad inside that case, what I discovered was that, while well protected, my iPad now felt cheap and the edges of the case bothered my hands.  Read on to see my other solutions.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


I have a love/hate relationship with white boards.  I love the convenience of being able to write on the walls.  I love that I can just think out loud and write it down and not worry if I make a mistake because it erases (relatively) easily.  I also love how much space there is on a good sized white board.

I hate how fast the markers dry up.  I hate how they don't erase completely.  I hate when someone else uses the board and doesn't clean it up afterward.  I hate when marker tips get smashed in and I can't use them anymore.
The solution? Today I bought my own set of markers that are supposed to last longer (we'll see) and that only I get to use.  I like having control over what goes on in my classroom, and I don't want to deal with the frustration of having seventy markers that don't write well (that's what it felt like last night).

Sunday, October 3, 2010

SuperBad Bag

Two weeks ago I ordered a new backpack when I realized that my go-to-gear-bag, my Chrome Mini Metro messenger bag was just a bit too mini for my needs.  That bag is still a phenomenal object of holding, but I needed something a bit bigger.

Enter the Timbuk2 SuperBad.

Friday, October 1, 2010

First week of school

For me, this week marked the beginning of my master's program at National University.  I'm working toward a master's in education and a single subject teaching credential for mathematics.  My program is designed to be fast paced and pretty intense; I finish a course every 4 weeks.  This first class, TED 601 is based around the teaching and credentialing standards for California.  Mostly it involves reading a lot of the different documents that describe what is required of every teacher and strategies to be an effective educator at the most basic level.  As the course and program advances, I'll be focusing on different aspects from some developmental psychology to lesson planning, etc.

The online format is a little bit new to me, but I'm not having trouble keeping myself disciplined and making myself work on things yet.  Hopefully I'll keep that up (since I pretty much have to).

This morning I have a meeting with my 7th grade math teacher to discuss some observations that I'll be doing in his classroom over the next couple of weeks.  It's a little odd to be going back to my Jr. High School, but I'm really looking forward to it.

Everything else this week has gone very well; I subbed for another teacher at work yesterday, so overall I was teaching for 6 hours rather than my usual 4.  I really do enjoy working with a variety of students, and didn't have any trouble in front of a completely new group of kids.  I'm enjoying what I do and am fairly confident this is actually what I'll be happy doing for a good amount of time.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Now with Hover Capabilities!

When I started my blog up two years ago, I only knew of one domain registrar.  This domain registrar has a little bit of a history of being heavy on the upsell while making it difficult to do much with the domains you already own.  Now, especially since they recently went up for sale, I decided it was a good time to switch to a new registrar.

For those interested, the original address for this blog was, however I wanted it to just be  A registrar lets me choose a custom domain name and make it point to the blog here. 

So this weekend I signed up with - a registrar that has been heavily plugged on my favorite podcasts, This Week in Tech & Macbreak Weekly.  They make everything ridiculously easy and are considerably less expensive compared to my old registrar.  I also thought the blog could do with a facelift; I wasn't really happy the way it looked after I changed it over summer.  The new three panel layout works a bit better for wider screens, and I like keeping the focus on the post text and my twitter feed on the left with the archive links on the right (I just need to get good photo of me somewhere near the top and out of the way).
 Let me know what you think in the comments!

You might also wonder what the box at the top right of the page is.
A QR code is a newer style barcode that can be read by smartphones and other scanners.  This particular QR code will send a reader to the website:, my new splashpage and portal to all things me.

So that's what's been going on with my blog this weekend.  Hopefully I'll get some new photos and posts up soon.

Friday, September 24, 2010

A late note

The semester has started up at work and my two classes have gotten off and running.  I'm teaching Calculus and Algebra 2 and so far I'm having a good time in both classes.

I was asked the other day how I can stand to be their teacher (the algebra 2 kids).  Today I was explaining a concept for the umpteenth time and one of them said "now I get it".   Those words keep me going.  To see the look on someone's face when the puzzle comes together and the answer makes sense.  Or alleviating the dread of taking a test because I reassure that they're using the correct methods.  Sure, it's hard work and I push them to do more; to pay attention and take notes and answer my questions asking them just to take guesses while I hope that they're developing intuition about these topics.  I work hard to think of ways to explain a topic six ways to Sunday.  Sometimes they'll get the idea right away; other times I just have to keep showing them again and again.  But it's the "now I get it"'s and the questions that make me think about the answer; questions that test my understanding or that apply concepts beyond what we're learning.  Indicators that what I'm saying is not only sticking, but inspiring original thought.

I hope that as this semester progresses I can get every student to be involved and find an enjoyment of their subject.  If they enjoy themselves, the grades go up.  I try to keep my classes interesting and not too dense by injecting humor, or anecdotes, or just engaging the students in conversation.  The calculus classes most often lead to interesting discussions.  We talk about college a lot when I teach calc.  Everyone has questions and not that I have every answer, but I try to give them perspective on what they might encounter.  Values of working hard, asking questions, keeping on top of assignments, and being true to themselves.

Mostly though, I'm just happy that what I have to share is well received and that I am taken seriously when I teach.  I have respectful students who are trying hard and showing that they care about their work just as I do.  I feel like I've been living and breathing this stuff for years, and while I don't need them to be that into math, at least come away from the class with a "gee, that was actually pretty interesting, I wonder what else there is to learn?" attitude.  If nothing else, if I can inspire my own desire to continue learning and how much importance I place on education, I feel like I've succeeded.  Not that a high class average bothers me at all either.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

What's in the bag?

I bought this bag about 4 years ago from the Chrome store in San Francisco.  It's called the Chrome Mini-Metro and has pretty much been everywhere with me since then.  Easily one of my cornerstone possessions, unfortunately its time is coming to an end.

By the end of college, this bag was beginning to feel a little cramped, especially when I had a binder or two and my netbook.  With the advent of my iPad, the load is definitely lessened some, but I'm still finding it hard to cram my regular gear in with the binders I need for teaching.  While on that topic, take a look at my daily gear; the iPad camera kit to transfer photos on the fly from my camera & even iphone; an iPhone charger, Zagg Z.Buds, a cleaning cloth, my trusty TI-89 calculator, some dry erase markers, my green laser (you never know...), an ink refill for my pen, red pens for grading, a duracell backup battery, iPhone cable, 4GB flash drive, aux stereo cable & RCA adapter, bluetooth headset, swiss army knife, and of course, my iPad.

Settling in

A few years ago I learned about the Settlers of Catan board game from one of my weekly podcasts; The Totally Rad Show.  Since then I have purchased the game, received add-on packs and expansions, and played at least a hundred games (or so it seems).  Often my dad and I will play a few times per week.  Now, the game has been shown on here before, but I've collected many of the pictures that I take of our finished boards (whether I win or lose) and thought the compilation looks fun.