Sunday, June 24, 2007


Train, Graduation, 10K

Funny thing I've been meaning to post. It's a normal day and I'm riding the train. Some days I bury myself in some videos from the TED conference on my PDA, but other days I just listen to music or relax. This was about 2 weeks ago - we're riding on the green line west, I'm listening to music, and we get to one of the stops on the train on my way to work. A lady was in the other row of seats knitting something, and she was apparently so engrossed in her knitting that she didn't realize that it was her stop until the doors were open. She panicked, and jumped up and got off the train. But I noticed that her ball of yarn was unraveling behind her, near her seat behind me even though she had passed me and exited the train.

Immediately, the consequences flashed through my mind. She was working very hard on this knitting project, and what would happen was, the doors would close with ball of yarn inside. The train would speed away, with the kitting project attached and it would get dragged down the rail. Terrible stuff, a tragedy. The door buzzers went off, meaning within 10 seconds the doors would close and the tragedy would unfold. But some lady father back in the car by the yarn threw the ball of yarn up a few rows near me. I sprung into action, grabbing the yarn and throwing it up near the doors, but I didn't have the angle to get it out the doors. Then someone else, as if we had practiced, scooped the yarn up as the doors were sliding shut, and underarmed the ball out through the crack just before the doors slid shut! There was NO time to spare, and through teamwork, we saved the lady's project. As the train accelerated away, the lady smiled and waved from the platform.

Summary of events since my last, February post. Finished my last class and got an "A"; this was the most fun and interesting class I took in college. I like being an engineer, but there are many other things in life that fascinate me. One thing I've found about myself is, I need to keep figuring out how to continue trying new stuff on the side, and not let the job take over my life. Right now I commute 2.5 hours per day which is ridiculous. People ask, "What are your hobbies?" and if the definition of hobby is, "something you do in your free time," by percentage, commuting must be my hobby. I'm looking forward to getting this commute behind me. In the mean time I've been pretty good at making the most of it by watching some extremely interesting TED conference videos (topics include, defense department organization, brain functions, economics, architecture, biology, and ideology), and reading while on the train.

Still no grades from that last class though, which is pitiful. The faculty at USC seems pretty good, but the administration is lacking to say the least. I know my unofficial grade, but why they can't crunch that through to an official grade is beyond me. This is the computer age - and there is no excuse for USC to take this long.

My graduation week went well though - my parents and ES's parents came to town for it. Well, her parents came mostly just to meet my family. We've been together for 4 years, and this was actually the first time that our parents met each other. For the actual first first time they met, ES and I planned a wonderful dinner together down at Dana Point right in the harbor. It was a beautiful day, and I think it went about as well as possible. That'd good news. JF asked me if I was nervous about them meeting. I wasn't nervous because I know I'm stickin' with ES! It's our parents that should have been nervous! They had no choice but to get along :)

Then for graduation day itself, it was a nightmare. I had to work a half day in the morning, and traffic was jammed getting to school all the way to the parking garage. The drive from work to the parking spot was well over 1.5 hours. Again, administration of USC should have had MANY of these graduation days and had a much better system down for getting people on and off the campus. But no, there was no such planning, and we were all left to fend for ourselves.

The sad organization of events included the ceremony itself. There was not enough room in the courtyard where they held the ceremony. Parents were behind trees, and could not see the stage. The speaker was just the dean, who had a very plain vanilla speech, and to top it off, they did not organize us by alphabet. With this true, the parents had no idea when their student was going to walk across the stage, so they all tried to pack in in the front of the audience. But not everyone fit at the front, so security was constantly man-handling the parents to get them back to their seats. It was a ridiculous situation. If people were just in alphabetical order, the parents would easily be able to determine when their student was going to walk, and wouldn't have to jostle for position. ES's dad said he even saw two guys get in a fight trying to take pictures of their students. Just sad. Thanks a bunch to my family and friends who came to the ceremony - it was a fight, but we made it. I appreciate everyone coming out despite the trouble. After the ceremony we made our way through Friday evening traffic to get a steak dinner. Traffic wasn't terrible getting out, surprisingly.

Since then, I've recaptured my life. I have gotten to relax a lot more vs. being constantly stressed over homework assignments, and have gotten a chance to focus more on doing a good job at work. I've also started one programming project which I am excited about. It's a neat idea, and it is within my capability. Now it's just a matter of programming it and getting word out there so people can use it. When I explain the project to most people, the standard reaction is, "why are you doing this?" There is really not much chance of a monetary gain from the thing. I'm doing it just for the fun of it. I make enough money from work doing tasks which are moderately interesting - I decided to use my free time to do things that are very interesting rather than fill that time up, too, with money-making tasks. Perhaps this type of attitude will cause me to eventually stumble on something that is both extremely interesting and lucrative.

I ran a 10K race at the end of May. I exceeded my goals by running it in 49.9 minutes! I "McAllisterized" AH, redemption from being Hornginated in the Pumpkin run 5K race we ran in October.

At the end of the 10K race, I found out that AH had not been to mountains ever for hiking except for one trip in Taiwan a long time ago. I have been wanting to get back up to the mountains since I graduated so we planned a hike. We went yesterday. Long story short, we initially planned a 7 mile round trip hike that was fairly tame. But he was doing so well to start off we decided to extend the hike and try for a bigger goal. A quick calculation in mileage put us at 12 miles round trip, but that ended up being incorrect! I added wrong - the actual distance was 14.8 miles! Anyway, we barely dragged out of there after 9.5 hours of walking. We were both taking our last swings of water just before getting out to the car. This is really making a long story short, but it ended up being a successful day and a painful day. That was my second longest hike to date in a single day as far as my records show. The previous #2 was the telegraph peak hike from the other side, which was 13.1 miles.

One last note before I run out of time here. This blog is written for me, to me. The goal is not to be artistic or journalistic or anything wonderful. It's just a log of going's on that I'd like to come back to and remember at some point. The language here is probably pretty poor, but I just type it as a stream of consciousness. At least the spelling is mostly right...

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