Rage Against the (Vending) Machine

Today, after studying some CS241 with Alan, I went to buy some drinks from the nearby vending machines. I bought my apple juice for $1.75, which is normal... and then I went to buy Coke for Alan. So, I start inserting the coins... quarter, quarter, quarter -- then the machine got jammed!

I go back to Alan to tell him about his misfortune, and we end up going back to the vending machines. I tell him that it's jammed, but Alan, being a tad stubborn, wants to insert another quarter (a special one called "Wisdom").

Jason: "I wouldn't recommmend wasting another 25 cents Alan."

Alan: "Just let me try it."

Jason: "Okay then."

Alan: "Here goes Wisdom!"

*Machine eats the coin*

Jason: "Told you!"

Alan: "Oh no. Damn vending machine."

I decide to head back to studying. Apparently, Alan then decides to spend $1.25 on a can instead of $1.75 on a bottle. So, he goes to the adjacent can vending machine and tries it. After 75 cents, it also became jammed. Alan puts in a penny in an attempt to unclog it, and it worked! He inserts another quarter, and the machine jams again!

Alan then goes to another bottle vending machine and spends $1.75 on a Coke bottle. He comes back and tells me about the can vending machine and his bottle. Alan paid $4.20 for his Coke!

This reminds me of when I got screwed over by vending machines in high school:

*Jason deposits $2 into the vending machine*
*nothing happens*
*15 minutes later -- a girl walks by and buys a pop from the same machine*
*Jason decides that the machine now works*
*Alan and Raymond advise Jason that it's not worth it*
*being stubborn, Jason deposits another $2 into the vending machine*
*nothing happens*
*Jason feels rejected for the rest of the day*

Conclusion: Vending machines should be more reliable!



Bao got an Xbox! He's also infinitely broke! :P Check out his blog for more info, hehe. I've tried Burnout 3, Battlegrounds, and Halo. Halo is just like the PC version, but with co-op play. Maybe co-op is worth the extra $45 :P.

So yeah... with midterms looming, I'm trying out Xbox games! w00t!

Also, I'm beginning to question whether the place I'm renting is worth the money. After all, I spend almost all my time elsewhere, only using my room as a place to sleep. Maybe I should *make* it worth the money by actually living there, instead of somewhere else :P

Hehehe :P :P :P.

Yeah, it's too late at night; I'm practically insane. Time to logoff...


Champions of Kamigawa Drafts

I played two drafts of Champions of Kamigawa (CHK) recently. I think CHK is a set with great mechanics! Of the two drafts, I would say the first was the most fun since all the cards were new to me (but not to others... you know who you are :P). The second draft was today and was pretty fun too. I opened three 'bombs': Kokusho, the Evening Star, Yosei, the Morning Star, and Kodama of the North Tree.

Cool points:
-I made a deck that highly resembled Alan's Samurai deck, and he made a deck that was a lot like my deck from the first draft.
-Isamaru is now known as "East Side Mario's" :D
-Keiga the Tide Star likes to eat removal (usually from its controller!), so that he can gain control of a creature =P

-Thief of Hope is way too powerful within the block. Basically for every spell (you can make it that way) you cast you gain 1 life and your opponent loses 1 -- for each Thief you control! Is it the new Wild Mongrel?
-Glacial Ray is also too good :)
-Myojins don't seem to do much, but Dragon Spirits own!

Now, Alan and I are thinking of combining our cards to make an ultra-Red/Black and an ultra-Samurai deck.


Tales of Symphonia

That's the game I've been playing (along with Alan, Bao, and Duy) for the past two weeks. Actually, that's pretty much all I did during those two weeks (sleep, lectures, and eating time excepted) :P

Now, maybe it's time to get back to reality. We do have several other games lined up though: Warcraft III, Sega Rally 2 (old game, but you can sorta drift in it!! :D), and Missing Since January.

FMA 49 and 50 were really great! Loads plot twists and revelations... oooooooh! Can't wait until 51!

"Wahoo." - Presea, Tales of Symphonia


Got laptop back!

Yay! Now I can post stuff :D


Baaad Bad Weather

It seems like both East Asia and the Caribbean are having very stormy weather this season. Florida's been hit hard by Hurricanes Charley and Frances, and now Ivan has its sights on the poor Sunshine State. In Asia now, Typhoon Songda has been rampaging around in Korea and Japan, following Aere which has left Taiwan and China devastated two weeks ago.

More bad/unusual weather:

-snowfall in Alberta a couple days ago
-cold and wet summer here (mostly)
-unseasonally hot summer in BC

I don't know what my point is really. Maybe I'm running out of things to post about :(


Back to 'Loo...

It's time to go back to Waterloo, sigh :(

I have to pack up and leave again, after 4 months of memories in RH. Gotta buy some new furniture as well. IKEA, maybe?

Bought a 256 MB memory drive to help facilitate the transfer of files while in 'Loo (like anime :P)

According to an article on Wikipedia, not only statistics but also epidemiology, is like a bikini :P
"Epidemiology is like a bikini: what is revealed is interesting; what is concealed is crucial." -- Peter Duesberg (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Feb 1991)


My thoughts on DVD-RAM

I bought a DVD burner yesterday and some DVD-RAM media. Although I've read and heard some negative opinions about the RAM format, I wanted to try it out for myself. The DVD burner is a LG GSA-4120B, which supports every DVD format in existence right now (+R, -R, +RW, -RW, +R DL, and RAM) and the DVD-RAM media is manufactured by Panasonic (made in Japan!)

I primarily bought this drive for backup purposes. My first test for the RAM media was to transfer my backup files to it. It was pretty amazing! It behaves just like a hard drive: no DVD-writing software required, quick writing of small files, and no waiting for lead-in and lead-out before ejecting the disc. In fact, it took me some time to get used to it because it's so unlike -RW/+RW. Each DVD-RAM disc is basically a 4.26GB hard drive :D.

I do have two complaints about the RAM format though. The first is that it is slower than +RW in transfering large amounts of data (a 3x RAM speed is actually equal to only 1.5x because it uses write/verify and read/verify instead of pure write and read). The good thing is that I don't plan on using this for large transfers at a time -- the initial backup will be a large transfer and will take a while, but after that only small modifications need be made (you don't copy 30+ GBs of stuff onto your 40 GB hard drive everyday now do you? :P) My second complaint is its incompatability with most DVD drives. Few DVDs can read them and fewer still can write to them. :(

There are lots of good things about RAM too. The DVD-RAM format is highly reliable due to error-correction features built into every disc. It also sports >100 000 times rewrite capabilty -- each disc will last you more than 27 years if you rewrite it 10 times a day -- and is bootable to boot :P. This reliablilty mumbo-jumbo may not translate into real-life perfomance but I can testify that it's pretty darn good. I've used an Imation DVD-RAM disc from Roxio as my personal coaster for 3 months now, the disc going through steaming hot mugs on top and a rough wooden surface on the bottom everyday. It has endured much punishment, indeed: if a hot mug goes on top, it immediately curls up due to the overwhelming heat. I thought it was certainly dead, but yesterday I tried to see if it would still work with my new burner. Indeed it did! All it required was a re-format :D

I think DVD-RAM is a great format for computer (data) use. That was and still is its purpose after all. As for anime and movie backups, I'm sticking with -R/+R because I only need write-once capability and the fast speeds (like 8x +) are nice. I hope this post helps you choose a good burner (if you're actually looking for one) :D


An end to another term

The summer term's over... *sob*. Before I get all emotional, I just want to say that it was a great term at Roxio (though it's going to be Sonic soon) working along with Andrew, Dash, and Luc. They've finished their work terms already, but I still have 2 more weeks -- it buys me enough time to finish my report before I head back to Waterloo :P

The company farewall party was held on Friday 27th at Frankie Tomatto's, a famous Italian buffet restaurant with a remarkably renovated interior that really gives the feel of being in Italy. The floor was pretty slippery though. And the line-up for pasta was really REALLY long. Anyways, after lunch, us four co-ops played our last game of pool, foosball, and Starcraft... *sniffle*.

What was funny was that on the ride back to Roxio from the buffet, while talking about gas-guzzling SUVs, John (the supervisor of Luc and Dash) mistakenly said "SCV" instead. The big QA boss, Anat, was like "Huh? SCV? What's that?" to which John quickly covered by saying "Uh...yeah, it's a John and co-op student thing... yup..." :D We couldn't really contain our laughter... (Of course we don't play games during work, what are you talking about? :P)

Today, as I sit here typing up this entry, a new batch of co-ops from Waterloo have arrived. I've being putting off chatting with them - I still like our old group better :P

Oh yeah, the Midnight Sun's in Texas now, almost at the 9000 km mark (still very behind though, since they're 8900/19300 km and 24/40 days). Adam van Koeverden from McMaster University got 2 medals - a gold and a bronze in kayaking - but I'm sure anyone following the Olympics knows that already :D. The world record-tying win by Xiang Liu in the 110-metre hurdles was also pretty significant -- it marks the first win by an Asian athlete in sprint athletics.


Procrastination period is officially over

For the last three weeks I've been pretty much slacking-off, and now I have to start getting my act together. Procrastination is never a wise thing to do - it's always the worst choice - yet many people, including myself, do it all the time. I wonder why...

Anyway, some things I must do soon:

-work report (67% finished)
-housing for Fall and Winter terms (pretty much finalized)
-switching streams (have to talk to the school about it)
-choosing a major (narrowed down to 3 subjects)
-prepare for the JLPT and another work term in Japan (I guess I'll start in September)

On a side note, today I attended a sermon given by an Inuit pastor from Nunavut. He sang a couple of songs in his native language (I wonder what it's called) and made people fall down after he prayed for them. (I wonder about that too...) Anyways, there's no real point to this post other than to remind everyone that procrastination isn't the way to go. (But sometimes it is! hehehe :P)

Oh, and Canada got her first GOLD medal today! (in Men's Artistic Gymnastics, if I remember correctly) And, the Midnight Sun is somewhere in California now, having completed more than 5500 km. :D


Go Canada Go!

Let's all cheer for Canada during the Olympics in Athens! So far, Canada only has a bronze medal, but we'll get more... Congrats to the Women's Synchronized Swimming team for winning our first medal! <(^.^)>

Here is the medals table.


Disparity in higher education?

UW's Daily Bulletin (Monday, August 9th) featured an article with an intriguing snippet by President Johnston:

"The gap between the U.S. and the rest of the world in the quality and accessibility to universities and investment in post secondary education and research grows. It was interesting that no leading U.S. university attended this conference -- though the leading UK, Australian, Chinese, HK and Canadian ones did. The U.S. is in a league and a mindset of its own. Truly, there is a new Rome and that is a pity for global higher education and research."

If this is true, -- and I don't doubt it -- what implications does it have for us? Are we bound to head south for graduate studies?



I passed my G1-exit driving test! w00t! Actually, I almost failed because of speeding, but the examiner was very nice and said it would be between the two of us :).


Misfortune's coordinated strike?

Last Friday, I found out that UW Housing had rejected my application back in June without considering it, and worst of all, without even letting me know! Then today, my new bicycle, which I bought only 2 months ago, was stolen. Damn it... くそ、泥棒の奴が! Actually, I feel surprisingly calm about it, so I don't know what or how to rant about it... and so I won't. To those that are looking for a good ol' rant, I'm sorry :P Well, it's not like it's going to come back to me :).

Anyways, I had my midterm evaluation with my supervisor. It went quite well, despite the fact that I did crash the build twice so far already this term, mostly due to carelessness I guess :P. He left me with two things to think about: whether or not I'm going to return next work term and whether or not I'm going to work an extra week (classes don't start until September 13th because of Frosh Week). I'm gonna ponder these two things for a while...

Oh yeah, here's something that's cool: Luc, my friend from work, (another co-op student from UW like me) is moving in on Thursday to where I'm living now, for the remainder of the term. We'll have 2 wireless routers now, lol.




That's "Full Metal Alchemist, Episode 42" in Japanese. (if you put that through Babelfish, you'll get "<> 42nd story" :P) Full Metal Alchemist, or FMA, is a very popular anime that hasn't been fully aired yet. Basically, since Blogger has a systematic way to store posts using HTML file based on the name - like "Kyoto Adventure" into "kyoto-adventure.html" - I wanted to see if or how it would handle double-byte web addresses.

Episode 42 was pretty cool though: It featured new opening and ending songs and made it quite clear that the series is nearing an end. As my coworker put it, it's the beginning of the end... and I can't wait until the next episode is out!

Oh yeah, I'm going for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, Level 3 in December. I don't know if I'm good enough for Level 2, so I might as well get a Level 3 certificate and get the Level 2 next year rather than fail this year and then get the Level 2 next year :P Jia, Isaque, are you guys planning to go for the JLPT this year too?


Damn UW Housing!

To make a long story short, stupid UW Housing has rejected my application because they hold grudges and don't stick to their own "first-come first-serve" rule. To top that off, they didn't even tell me that they wouldn't consider my application: I had to wait just like everyone else for the results to finally find out that I was rejected outright anyway since the very beginning. Grrr... they just piss me off so much!!!

Anyways, being angry isn't going to get me a room, so I was wondering if any of you that are reading this know of a place I can rent for the Fall 2004 term? Thanks for your help!


Grey, gray and black...

to complain not, but
too wet and too hot. Sky blue -
oh where, our blue skies?

the dark clouds advance...
storm's herald: fluffy white tops,
cruel black bottoms

dull, grey, gray skies,
here all too often these days
but to reminisce...


Finally, good sound!

I finally got a pair of headphones to work with my laptop! :D It's a Sennheiser HD437. Sennheiser makes some of the best headphones in the world. This model is pretty crappy though, but at least it works with my stupid laptop! The next model in the line-up costs over $100 :(

A funny thing happened as well. At the Square One bus terminal, I was faced with the choice of waiting 15 minutes for the bus home, or walking home (which also takes over 20 minutes). I decided to walk home, and about 15 minutes later, the bus overtakes me. Then, after another 5 minutes or so, I see the bus stopped dead on the side of the road, F.O.R.D. style. So, I then overtake the bus! I felt like waving to the people on the bus, but... I thought the better of it :P

Mississauga Transit should seriously upgrade their some of their buses and make them come more frequently. I heard Vancouver has a convenient and reliable bus-based system (maybe because they have no subway system) with buses coming in 5 to 10-minute intervals. Still, the 30-minute waits in Mississauga don't compare with Richmond Hill's: today, I saw their schedule for route 85, and it had 1-hour intervals. What if you just missed the bus in the middle of January? Yikes!


Last name "too short"

Lately, I've been thinking about doing some brushing up on my French. I've (we all have, really) learned French for at least 5 years, and that adds up to a lot of time wasted if I don't get something out of it. So, going to Google.ca and upon searching for "Learn French", I came upon a pretty useful site, The French Tutorial. I did some review lessons and eventually decided to register. That's when I found out my last name was too short. The webmasters have never seen a 2-letter last name, or what? Vicious lies!!

I took a screenshot of it and found an image hosting site to put it on, but the service only allows pictures of up to 120k :(.

Members of the U-Continuum, we must stand up for our right to a short last name! :P


Kyoto Adventure

I don't have any recent things to post about now, so I'll share the events of an interesting day I had while in Japan. On that day, I went to Kyoto and back (from Tokyo). It's going to read like scribbled personal thoughts (which are in parentheses) and journal entries. I basically modified the stuff in the journal I kept, adding descriptive and helpful details.
Warning: It is quite long. Seriously, it's really long. Read it when you have 5-10 minutes to spare.

December 12, 2003. The temperature in Kyoto was about 17 degrees Celsius during the day and 11 at night.

1 - Departure

6:00 - Alarm rings. (Why the f**k is the alarm blaring at -- oh, right!) Got out of bed around 6:10 and took a shower. Ready to go at around 6:30, checked and then double-checked my Shinkansen tickets, digital camera, packed a few mikans (clementines, I think), then left.

6:40 - Walking to the nearest JR train station, Mejiro, in light rain. (Hope it won't rain in Kyoto!) Got to Mejiro half-soaked at 6:55 and hopped on the Yamanote train bound for Tokyo Station [ed. note: Well, from Mejiro they're all bound for Tokyo. All roads may lead to Rome, but all railroads seem to lead to Tokyo :)].

7:30 - Arrived at Tokyo Station. Took about 20 minutes to find the Shinkansen platforms. (Man, this place is huge! Way too many levels below ground...) Found out I missed the scheduled train, so have to wait until 8:30 for the next one.

8:30 - Got on the train. Nobody seems to care about your ticket; they don't check it, ever. The line is called the Nozomi Express, which roughly translates into "Hope Express". Making stops at Shinagawa, Nagoya, Kyoto and Osaka, I didn't want to miss my stop, which is Kyoto obviously. (Started getting sleepy though, guess I should have slept earlier last night...)

9:30 - The train arrives at Nagoya. Nagoya doesn't seem to have any distinctive features. It seems to be a smaller, grayish version of Tokyo. (Maybe it was the grey weather) Fully awake now, I'm trying to comprehend the Japanese news stories being displayed on the wall LCD (they're flashing across the wall at unrealistic speeds, of course :P)

2 - Arrival

10:10 - Kyoto at last! And it's sunny here too! Got off the train, and saw quite a sight in the station lobby: Hundreds if not thousands of uniformed high school students waiting with their teacher/tour guides. [note: Kyoto and nearby Nara were ancient capitals of Japan and they have high cultural and historical significance] Asked for a tour map from the station office, and received a nice and detailed one for free. I set out to explore.

10:20 - Exiting the station, I became quite disoriented. (Where's north? Darn tourist map seems to have everything in order except for directions!!!)

3 - Orientation

10:30 - Found my location on the map, sat down, then started planning out the best method of exploring the city in a day. (The railway system seems to be on par with Toronto's. Oh my. Guess I should just walk... at least that way I'll see the most of the city)

10:45 - With course plotted, I set out on the longest and most memorable trip of my life. The generally circular course chosen was highly efficient, (with no knowledge of C&O too :P) consisting of nearly 41km of walking [note: measured at home the next day, using a real map this time :D] and a two-station hop on the Kyoto subway.

4 - Exploring Kyoto: Temple Visits

10:55 - Reached Nishi-honganji temple. (Wow, amazing!) The temple gardens are meticulously maintained. Not many people seem to be visiting. (I wonder where all the high school students are...)

11:10 - Reached Higashi-honganji temple. (The gardens here are even more beautiful!) Groups of high school students are now flooding into the temple.

11:15 - On the way to the next temple. Became slightly lost [note: please don't ask me what 'slightly lost' means :P] and received help from a local. (Very nice guy I think, I mean, he had to listen to my Japanese)

11:20 - Passed by some heavy construction. (Looks like they're building a much-needed and welcome extension to Kyoto's railway system) Opened my knapsack only to find half the mikans squished and some of the juices soiling the digicam case. (Oh crap! My uncle is going to kill me!) [note: the 6-megapixel digicam was bought only a week ago]

11:35 - Third (group) of temples. There are four in the area all situated around Kyoto Park Hotel. Took more photos and headed north, toward the temples at the base of the eastern mountain range.

11:40 - Roads started to become hilly. Quite taxing to walk/climb. [note: It's not that bad...climbing is unnecessary] About 5 minutes later, I ran into another huge mob of high school students. I was wearing a navy blue jacket that looked like a school uniform, with buttons, a high collar and all that, so I actually mingled into that mob quite well.

11:55 - Arrived at and explored Kiyomizu temple. Quite large. Found out the xD memory card only had room for 60 more photos. [revelation: 6 megapixels means less pictures] Started deleting some old photos and rationing the precious leftover bytes.

12:10 - Passing through and briefly touring two more temples since I may not have enough time before the sun sets around 5 PM. Heading towards the famous Gion Corner. There's a Kaburenjo theater here as well, although there was no performance going on when I was there.

12:20 - Reached Gion. It's a really small place, but crammed full of goodness. Took many photos. (Getting hungry, gotta find a place to eat...) Headed for the large Maruyama Park complex of temples.

12:30 - Passed through Yasaka shrine along the way to Maruyama. Crossed the busy Higashioji-dori Ave. (Cool chirping at the major intersections are quite useful for the blind. It seems that the north-south streets have different sounds to distinguish them from the east-west streets.) [note: Mississauga and Richmond Hill also have sounds at some intersections but do not have separate sounds for N-S and E-W streets.]

12:40 - Reached Maruyama Park. Passed through 3 temples, and reached the Miyako. Headed north towards the famous Heian Shrine. Met some Maiko girls and took some pictures. [note: I didn't know that they are called "Maiko" until I was back in Tokyo. There, I was asked by my aunt whether or not I'd seen some Maiko, and mistaking the term for "Michael", I was quite confused. I finally figured it out after a day or so.]

12:55 - Passed by several old but well-maintained museums and reached Okazaki Park. Heian Shrine is just a minute away. The small Okazaki lake/pond is quite nice. [note: much better than Columbia Lake at Waterloo. Columbia was drying up last year...] Starting to head westward towards Kyoto's main subway line, the Keihan-Ohtoh Line.

1:15 - Walked through 3 more relatively small temple gardens. Bought two o-nigiris at a local convenience store. [note: an o-nigiri consists of a delicious inner core - can be kalbi, ume, salmon, etc. - and rice wrapped around it forming a small triangular shaped meal, with nori wrapped around the triangle's sides.]

5 - Exploring Kyoto: Kyoto University

1:30 - Finished eating and reached the subway. (The station is really small, just like Toronto's!) Traveled north for 2 stations and got off at the northwest corner of Kyoto's university complex. There are many medical buildings just to the south of here. Headed east towards Kyoto University's main campus.

1:50 - Arrived at Kyoto University. Explored the campus for a while.

2:00 - Went into the Foreign Student Affairs Office. [note: I'm just translating the names here, don't know if they're really correct] Inquired about the university's graduate programs and such. Found out they have many Waterloo grads studying there :) I was told by the office staff to go to the Main Administrative Office and talk to some people there. (Okay... I might be in over my head now: Is my Japanese sufficient or will I end up making a fool of myself? I'll probably never know, but at least the people here are really nice) They also told me that Kyoto is Japan's most selective (implying) best university. [note: I was later told by my family in Tokyo that, well, the University of Tokyo is Japan's #1 university. Oh well, go figure :P]

2:15-ish - Went into the Main Administrative Office and received more information. KyotoU doesn't have a faculty of mathematics [note: few universities do] but they have faculties of science and information technology [note: again, translated by me. I'm pretty sure "science" is translated properly, but "information tech" is probably better translated as "comp sci", now that I think about it]. (Well, I guess comp sci is offered here, although they don't exactly go by that name) The staff here were even nicer: One of the office ladies offered to escort me to the Information Tech building to meet one of the professors there. (Okay, sure why not...I'm feeling foolishly brave today!)

2:25-ish - Arrived at Prof. Nakamura's office. He welcomed me in, I thanked the lady, she bowed slightly and left. (Left me alone to die! Ah!!! I don't know what to say to this prof. I've finished 1 year of undergrad and know nothing! uh oh...) Well, he started asking me about my interests and I did my best to reply. He ordered some coffee for us, and he talked about the programs at Kyoto that are related to mathematics. After a good 20 mintues of talking, I learned about the various things I have to do in order to study there, like taking [and passing] the Japanese Language Proficiency Test - Level 1. He told me that one of his current graduate students is a comp sci grad from Waterloo. (It seems like they respect UW's comp sci program, but I couldn't tell if they had the same feeling towards math - well, they don't exactly have graduate math. I don't know if I want to do comp sci though; although I do okay in the course and love the theory, I suck at the actual programming projects. Well, back to the topic...) We exchanged business cards, I conferred my thanks, bowed, then left.

2:50 - Exiting the campus, I headed east, towards one of the most famous sites in Kyoto - the Ginkakuji Temple. The sky was clouding up, then it began to rain for about 2 minutes, and then stopped. Miraculous. It became partly cloudy by the time I reached the base of the Ginkakuji hill.

6 - Exploring Kyoto: Ginkakuji Temple

3:25 - After a long walk, I arrived at Ginkakuji. This temple is famous enough to demand an entry fee. I paid the 500 yen (about $6), received a colourful brochure, and walked through a long, green and leafy corridor to enter the temple complex. It is situated at the base of a hill, and near the top of the same hill is a "big" mark, called Daimonji.

3:30 - While exploring the temple grounds, I found and photographed several neat things: a natural spring, the main temple itself, a Mt. Fuji sculpture made from gravel, a panoramic view of Kyoto from the mountain, and several fascinating ponds. I also met several tourists from Hong Kong and Shanghai there.

7 - Exploring Kyoto: Kyoto Imperial Palace

4:10 - Left the Ginkakuji's temple grounds. The sun is starting to set already. Heading for the Kyoto Imperial Palace now. (I wonder whether it'll be as majestic as the Tokyo one)

4:50 - Crossed the Kamo bridge. A nice, far, and clear view of the north and south can be obtained on this bridge. The Kamo bridge also overlooks a fork in the main river running through Kyoto: the Kamo River. Very scenic.

5:00 - After a long walk, Kyoto Palace at last. It took another 10 minutes to get near the inner areas of the compound though. Walked through the nice gardens at the palace: peach (momo) garden, sakura (cherry) garden, and the fish ponds. They were not in bloom of course, but were still quite beautiful. Most of the place is public, unlike Tokyo's Imperial Palace.

8 - Nijo Castle and Mountain Sunset

5:30 - Dusk. Arrived at Nijo castle but it was closed already. So, I took out my camera and took a few pictures of the outside. Headed southeast into the heart of downtown Kyoto.

5:50 - Beautiful sunset over the mountains to the west. More spectacular however, was the sun's golden reflection off of the mountains to the east. It was very breathtaking. Kyoto is lucky to be surrounded by mountains. (I think it helps stop the rain too, like before :P)

6:00 - I arrived in downtown Kyoto looking for a place to eat. (After all that walking, all I want is food! FOOOOOOD! Not wanting to spend to much money, I settled for a high-end fast food chain. No, not McDonald's. It's like a Wendy's equivalent, but I think it's better.)

6:50 - After sitting at the restaurant for over 40 minutes eating pizza and reading the various documents from KyotoU, I left the table and walked back into nighttime Kyoto.

9 - Exploring Kyoto: Kyoto at Night

7:00 - Walked along the brightly lit streets of downtown Kyoto. It's a very busy place like Tokyo and the people walk very fast, though not quite as fast as the folks back in Tokyo. (I think they are nicer than Tokyo-jin though :) I have yet to see Osakans walk - I heard they are even faster than the people in Tokyo. Maybe they're even faster than co-op students at Waterloo :P)

7:20 - Entered a few department stores here and there, but found nothing extraordinary. Started making towards Kyoto Tower and Kyoto Station. I walked down an avenue lined with colourfully illuminated water fountains along the sides and on the island in the middle. Soon, the shining lights at the top of Kyoto Tower became visible.

10 - Kyoto Station and the Big Department Store

7:40 - Arriving back in Kyoto Station, I gave my family in Tokyo a call to reassure them that I hadn't got myself lost somewhere or died of exhaustion. (My train leaves at 9:20, so I still have plenty of time...) I went to explore the department store on top of the station.

7:50 - Holy shmikes, the store is huge! Its design has an almost boastful nature to it: The escalators are arranged in a row so that you can see the very top from the very bottom. Surely, no department store in Tokyo has this much spatial luxury! (Looking diagonally upwards from the 1st floor to the 9th makes you seem very very small) I toured the store for an hour, browsing through some expensive things I couldn't afford, checking out the nice marble washrooms, and finally reached the top floor.

8:55 - Upon coming to the escalators again, this time going downwards, I looked all the way down to the first floor. What a breathtaking view! I left and started looking for the platform where my only way back to Tokyo was.

9:20 - The Nozomi Express impeccably departs at exactly 21:20:05. [Note: my watch is always a couple seconds fast]

11 - The Homecoming

11:11 (~ish. Just to make it look cool :P) - While the train was nearing Tokyo Station, I used the cell phone that was lent to me by my friend and called my aunt and uncle. They'll meet me at Ikebukuro Station.

11:45 - Home sweet home! Back in Toshima-ku, Ikebukuro [note: known as the working man's Tokyo, to distinguish it from tourist sites such as Roppongi and Akihabara. Ikebukuro has two large department stores: Seibu and Tobu -- Sei meaning west and Tö meaning "east" -- but with Seibu located to the east of Ikebukuro Station and Tobu to the west. Interesting (fushigi) eh?].

12:20-ish? - Arrived at the house. Back in my room, plopped onto the futon and fell into a deep sleep.

12 - The End!

With 41km in Kyoto and 3km in Tokyo, I walked at least 44km today! I could've finished a marathon :P Many thanks go to my boss, who arranged and paid for me to go on this trip before my term was over. Doumo arigatou gozaimashita! ^_^ Also my thanks and my amazement go to all who read through this long post!


Fun Driving Lessons

My driving instructor is funny, yet he seems to be a little crazy. He's quite fearless I'd say, telling me to make left turns when the oncoming traffic is only about 3 seconds away. His favourite phrase is "Go go go!" and he loves to make me drive over the speed limit :). He also loves to talk about the things in life while teaching me. Every lesson he asks me if I like girls - here's how the usual conversation goes:

(Two female students who'd just had their lessons leave the car...)
Instructor: "Umm...so, do you like girls?"
Me: "Yes..."
Instructor: "So you're normal! Haha! Wait, how old are you again?"
Me: "I'm 20."
Instructor: "Ah! That's okay I guess, but be careful, you know, girls can be... Wait! You're going BELOW the speed limit. What are you doing?! GO GO GO!"


The Third World's Dilemma

Third World countries really have the odds stacked against them. They can't trade properly and fairly with richer nations. They don't have a real voice in the global community. Their regimes can be easily ousted out of power by the conspiracies of a stronger nation. But we have to stop and think about what the root of their problems is. Is it because of their climate/geographic factors? Endowment of natural resources? Is it because of frequent wars fought with belligerent neighbours? I believe that almost all their problems can be traced back to a lack of education. The problem the Third World countries are facing is not poverty itself, rather it lies in why the countries are so poor despite many attempts at modernization.

"What can be done then, to save those nations?" you may ask. I wish I have the answer to that, but I don't. I'm actually a critic of the ineffective methods currently used in aiding the Third World. What the international aid organizations are doing now is ineffective. Their aid might actually be hindering the proper development of those nations.

I think one the main culprits of their prolonged poverty is food aid. Sustenance is a necessity to the growth of their societies, but that doesn't mean that it is the solution to their problems. Our food, (which we have too much of) while helping millions of starving people survive, is producing nations that are fully dependent on external support to feed their hungry. Moreover, our aid is partially responsible for their unrealistically large populations. They produce enough food to adequately feed about 10 to 20% of their population. Is our food really helping them on their way to prosperity?

Other forms of aid are also ineffective. Money that is given to a nation with a corrupt and illegitimate government quickly results in an elite group which oppresses the populace. More money obviously increases their stranglehold. This raises another important question: Should we offer money, and if we should, how do we know it's being put to work for the good of the masses?

Our technology could be the best gift, but we are loathe to give our knowledge. Bio-tech companies can offer resistant and prolific crops for free. With a few exceptions -- for promoting their public image and such -- they don't. Other forms of technology would probably not be used correctly or widely enough for a pronounced effect since the people are not educated. Thus, we don't give much of our technology away. There is one notable exception though. We give away our weapons quite lightly, without much thought. It's like a parent offering their baby the full use of the kitchen. Sure, the baby can peel that apple, right? It seems to be that the profit of our corporations is of greater importance than their welfare.

We must realize that offering aid DOES NOT always mean we are being of help. What's important is to analyze the implications of our aid. I believe education is the only long-term solution to their predicament. The problem is, who is going to teach them?


Free buffet at Mandarin on Canada Day!

This is going to be my second post of the day, but oh well. Like the title says, there will be a free buffet at Mandarin on Canada Day. The stores will likely be packed like the Yamanote trains during rush hour though. It's only for Canadian citizens, so proof of citizenship is required. You can check out Mandarin's site here.

Ranking time! (Anime that is...)

Not much to do at work this week due to Canada Day and all, so let's talk about anime! What's my favourite anime? It's really hard to pick just one since it'll be like comparing apples and oranges, so I'll give a list of all the anime I've watched and rank them, giving reasons and such. Here goes!


Crest of the Stars
Genres: Sci-fi, Drama, Adventure
Best part: High sense of adventure
Moves too slowly for some people -- lots of dialogue, character interaction, etc. -- but I like it. It's the best space drama out there.

Spirited Away
Genres: Adventure, Supernatural
Best part: Captivating world
Probably would have liked it even more if I were younger. Very original characters and setting.

Azumanga Daioh
Genres: Shoujo, Slice-of-life, Comedy
Best part: Very memorable characters
I've just recently watched this, so I may be a little biased, but I think it's a classic :) This has some of the most memorable and lovable characters I've seen (Yukari-sensei, Osaka, Tomo-chan). Sometimes progresses quite slowly though, with some unnecessarily long scenes.

Neon Genesis Evangelion
Genres: Drama, Horror, Psychological, Sci-fi, Supernatural
Best part: It's just so different from all the others
This anime is very different from all the others I've watched. Some of it is controversial, and other parts I just don't understand. It's difficult to explain, so just watch it if you haven't already. Just a little piece of advice: Don't watch the two movies until you've seen the series.

Haven't seen all the episodes but seems like a masterpiece:
Cowboy Bebop - Awesome music but seems to lack an equally awesome plot. Very entertaining though.
Full Metal Alchemist - Intricate plot and detailed characters. Has a certain suspense element. Looks promising.


Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' on Heaven's Door
Nice story and great music. Everyone should see this one!

Love Hina
I think the best part of Love Hina is in its memorable characters and their interactions. That said, all the characters are pretty much predictable and not much development occurs, but this anime is highly entertaining and is regarded as a classic. Some episodes seem like filler though.

Kimi ga nozomu eien
This is a very serious anime with an emphasis on relationships and how they change over time. Very realistic but is emotionally heavy. A break after every 2 episodes is recommended.

Kare Kano
A very very good anime, but I think it has too many filler episodes. Excellent humour and great characters. Good job Gainax.

Serial Experiments Lain
I like its style. Very well made, but if only I can understand what's going on...

Although this series picks up slowly, it eventually becomes quite interesting. Fairly complex story and universe.

Princess Mononoke
Excellent. Great adventure, good action, and fast-paced.

Gunslinger Girl
This one takes an interesting concept and does it well. I just wish this series is longer.


Initial D
The general public is divided in opinion on this one. I consider it 'Good'. It's not outstanding nor is it a failure. I would have classified it as 'Excellent', but it is pretty cheesy and becomes predictable. Nevertheless, this is still a great anime, but you really only have to watch the first 5 or 6 episodes to get the gist of it.

Scrapped Princess
This one would have been categorized as 'Excellent' if not for its lackluster ending. It has its share of good moments but it starts falling short of excellence in the latter half of the series.

One Piece
I watched a few episodes in Japan, seems pretty interesting.

see One Piece.

This one has several "FROM WHERE?!" parts. It's a pretty compelling anime, but at the end of it all it leaves much to be desired.

Banner of the Stars
This is the sequel to Crest of the Stars. A very good series in its own right, but I miss the closeless and sense of adventure that were dominant in its predecessor. Everything here is on a larger scale, mostly focusing on the galactic war.

Gundam Wing
This is one of the first anime I've watched. The opening themes are quite nice and catchy. The space battles aren't bad either.

Not bad

Record of the Lodoss War
Might have been good for its time, but it's outdated. Plot moves slowly and some episodes recap too much. The overall story is good though.

.hack SIGN
Interesting concept, but has problems in plot development. I think it could have been done better.

Sci-fi space comedy. This one is just a bit too silly for me I guess.

Pretty awful

Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo - This is just way too weird for me.
Dragonball Z - This has some long and drawn-out scenes where almost nothing happens.
Digimon - I guess I'm just too old for this.
Pokemon - see Digimon.
Sailor Moon - see Digimon.

Whoa, this is my longest post yet by far! I'm being a bit harsh on some of the anime here, but I didn't want a disproportionate amount in the masterpiece and excellent levels. Tell me if I missed any! And feel free to express your opinion and/or flame me :P


Google in H4x0r and "Bork Bork Bork!"

I think it's cool that Google offers "localized" pages for those l33t h4x0rs and the irreversibly damaged (I'm guessing) out there. Those Google programmers sure do have a sense of humor. I'm going to change my homepage from Google Canada to Google Hacker now :D

Here are the links: H4x0r and "Bork Bork Bork!". There are more weird "languages" to be found too.


The calm before the storm

There isn't much going on at work these days, but my supervisor tells me things are going to get rough soon. Ever since we (the development team) finished working on Japanese, we have pretty much been slacking off. In a week or two though, 8 (yes, eight!) new languages will come in and start kicking some developer ass. Boo yeah! (wait, I'm one of the developers...)

Anyways, on the first day of driving school the only things I learned were car noises and their associated problems. I can now diagnose things like car hiccups and gas problems. Great! :P. Actually, they were fairly hard to memorize. I don't think they sound the *same*, but when you hear too many of them, they start sounding very VERY similar. Like "screech!" and "screeech!" and "Screeeeche!". How am I going to pass the test this Sunday? Does anyone know if passing these tests actually matter?


Saturday D

Yesterday I got together with friends from my former EE class and had a blast down at Centre Island! We chatted about lots of stuff as we strolled about on the island, and even spent like an hour by the beach throwing/skipping rocks and debating the purpose of life :P. Then, it was dinner time: Korean BBQ Buffet! (yakiniku tabehoudai) I think I ate *way* too much...ugh... (tabesugichatta..kana)

Yesterday was also the first of two days in which the annual Dragonboat Competition is held. We saw the last few heats of the day, but I missed the one in which Joyce and Esther took part :(. Anyway, I also met Ben, Catherine, and Auntie Judith near that big bridge thing...yes...(WAY too tired to be articulate). Overall, a very fun and tiring day. Came home at 1, fell asleep as soon as I hit the pillow. ZzZZzzZzzz...


Lots of things...

Yeah. There are a whole bunch of things worth posting. Starting with the most significant...

1) Driving school! I'm FINALLY taking driving lessons, starting this Sunday. Obviously, I can't make it back to 'sauga this weekend :( (sorry Alan). It runs for 4 weeks, so basically I can't leave RicHill until the end of July. Now, to find a way to make effective use of all this free time...

2) My laptop doesn't have an audio-out port!!! How lame is that? While it has a digital S/PDIF-out port which is "better" (more advanced) than the traditional one, it obviously doesn't support analog devices. Which means only expensive digital devices can be used with it. Which means I can't use any of my speakers or headphones. Anyone know a solution to this problem which doesn't require the acquisition of huge audio systems?

3) Courses for the Fall term! In keeping with my tradition of indecisiveness, I'm going to take only the core Math courses and put off declaring a major for yet another term! Woo hoo! That's like, 4 more months to decide guy! But seriously, this does allow more time for weighing pros and cons, so I'll do just that. I think I've narrowed it down to anything but ActSci and Stats :P.

4) Last thing: hmm, I forgot what I was going to say. I'll just subjoin it to this post when I remember what it is...


Perfect gyroscopes and the what not

I found a couple of interesting articles on science and tech: testing the General Theory of Relativity and Personal Robots. I absolutely love hearing about advancements in science and technology.
Also, I'm going to make an effort to learn some Chinese (mostly reading/writing). This is because the development team I'm in just finished working on Japanese and is now starting on Chinese - and I can't read a thing! Quite shameful, I'd have to admit, being Chinese and all :P.



Recently I've become intrigued by the game of Go. I've played Chess and Chinese Chess before and in comparison, the rules of Go seem much more elegant. The name Go comes from igo (囲碁), the Japanese word for the game. A good site for learning about Go is Sensei's Library. I've tried playing against the computer with GNU Go and I got owned horribly :P. I say if you haven't given Go a try, go and try it out :).

Also, I'm going to make an effort to add only one space after a period instead of two. I was taught that adding two spaces is correct, but it looks like everyone is using only one. Meh.


The g factor

At work, I chanced upon this interesting article.

It's about the almost-taboo subject of measuring human intelligence. It talks about a general intelligence quotient: g. Apparently it's almost the same as IQ in most cases, but it is a slightly different concept. It describes how this 'g factor' affects everyday life, and how it's related to biology. Pretty neat.



I need to create a blogger account to post comments. Might as well hop on the bandwagon then. Don't really feel like posting too much stuff though.