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Date:2008-08-29 01:07

It's been a while. This isn't actually a real post, but I ever do get around to writing a real post, this is what I'll talk about:

  • China (briefly, since I kept a Blogger in China)

  • Korea (also briefly, for the analogous reason)

  • How much I have come to dislike flying

  • Moving into Yale

  • ST job training (perks and downsides)

  • New room decorations

  • How my goals have changed since freshman year

Okay, bedtime. It's going to be a crazy day tomorrow, with all the freshmen moving in and needing network registration help.

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Date:2008-06-05 02:35
Subject:Making a wish

Something worth sharing on LJ:

I was out in my backyard, admiring Jupiter and Cygnus in the brilliantly starry night sky, when all of the sudden, in the corner of my eye, I saw a shooting star dart through the dipper part of the Big Dipper. So I started to make a wish in my head, and then I realized that being able to appreciate the vast, unfathomable universe beyond our tiny (but still awesome) planet was the greatest thing I could wish for.

Now I have Starry Night open on my PC, and I'm trying to memorize as many of the visible stars as I can before I go outside again and stare at them for as long as neck can handle the strain. It's experiences like this that make being a nerd worth it.

Yayyy mmmbento is back! This is a joyous occasion.

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Date:2008-05-24 01:55

I've made this resolution to myself at least twice in the past already, but this summer I really will learn the Fridrich Method for solving the Rubik's Cube by heart. (Third time's a charm?) It's been nearly four years since I learned Leyan's layer-by-layer method, and at one point I was able to solve the cube with an average time of about a minute. However, bringing that time down to thirty seconds or less, as is quite possible with Fridrich, is going to take a lot of memorization, practice, and hard thinking. I hope my brain can handle it.

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Date:2008-05-08 11:32
Subject:Sorry east coasters

Weather forecast for Santa Clarita, CA (from AccuWeather.com):


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Date:2008-05-04 20:37

This is (sort of) a cross-post.

Little things that make me happy:
- Watching squirrels play with each other
- Picking up a perfectly sized chunk of rice using chopsticks
- Putting on my contacts in one try
- Washing my hands after hard physical labor
- Making a good playlist on iTunes
- Learning a new vocab word and then seeing it used somewhere
- Popping bubble wrap
- Meeting other people who enjoy popping bubble wrap
- Playing with toy pandas
- Hearing laughter that lasts more than five seconds
- Experimenting successfully with a new recipe
- Understanding a new physics concept
- Napping in the sunshine

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Date:2008-04-20 01:40

CASPY (Chinese Adopted Siblings Program for Youth) was a lot of fun. I wasn't actually a big sib, because (1) I'm not Chinese and (2) I had to do photography for the event. But I still got to play with some of the kids, especially the ones who thought (or seemed to think) that my camera was some sort of evil machine with which I was stealing their souls. One particularly ferocious girl, who I think was Bernie's little sib, started hissing at me and chasing me all around the WLH basement. Tiring, to be sure, but definitely more fun than I've had in a long time. Playing with little children brings out the inner child in me, the one that is so often suppressed by academics, commitments, and college life in general. I really should do it more often.

On a side note, I think my low-light/flash photography skills are improving. Faces no longer look washed out, and I can manage to avoid harsh flash shadows most of the time. Nevertheless, my progress still feels frustratingly slow, partly because I never have time to practice, and partly because I still can't figure out what it takes to create a "good picture." Maybe I'll find inspiration sometime during my two months in Beijing. A city being watched by the entire world should have something to offer, right? Right.

So I was thinking about the orgo problem set that I'm going to stay up doing tomorrow night (tonight, rather, if you're on the east coast like me). I realized that it would be the last one I would ever have to stay up doing, and this made me incredibly happy. Then I realized that it wasn't, because orgo is my one class that meets during reading week. Words cannot describe the dismay I felt at that moment. Sigh. At least my life outside of orgo is going splendidly.

My bed beckons. Good night.

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Date:2008-04-18 01:27

I took a two hour long nap on Cross Campus today. The sun was shining, a breeze was blowing, and the temperature was in the seventies.

It was glorious.

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Date:2008-04-04 10:55
Subject:On TBT, shots, and things

There is not a moment when I'm on my laptop that Tim Be Told is not playing on iTunes. One of my favorite songs, "Dirty Shoes," is already third on my all-time most played list, behind "Open Skies" by David Crowder Band and "How Can I Keep From Singing" by Chris Tomlin. I learned the lyrics of "O What Mercy" by ear in a matter of hours. There's enjoying music, and then there's obsession, and I believe I have crossed the threshold.

But I don't care, because TBT is so awesome.

In other news, I finally scheduled an appointment at the Travel Clinic for this Tuesday. Apparently, there are several immunizations that Yale requires I get in order to go to China this summer. You would think that after donating blood three times in the past year and half, I would be fine with needles. But alas, the perturbation remains. Another concern is that if the shots make my arm sore for any longer than a few days, my shooting ability at Nationals will probably be affected. We'll see, we'll see...

I've had a ton of work lately, and as a consequence, I've procrastinated quite a bit by reminiscing on my high school experience. It surprised me to realize that I no longer have many regrets about things I did or didn't do before college. Whether this is complacency or genuine maturity remains to be seen, but I like to think that my experiences so far validate my belief that life went the way it went specifically so that I could end up here, as the person I am now. One of my recurring desires is to be able to travel through time and talk with my future and past selves, both for the novelty of doing so and for the insights I would gain into my personal growth. Too bad relativity is working against me.

And now, to break the fourth wall... I'm very curious as to how many people I know still use LiveJournal, and specifically, who still reads mine. I remember when my friends page used to be real entries punctuated by updates to sinfestfeed and the zhongwen community, rather than the other way around. Has everyone moved on to using Facebook as the primary means of keeping each other posted? I can't decide if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

Pangea Day is definitely an admirable endeavor. It does bother me that they used the alternate and far less popular spelling of Pangaea though.

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Date:2008-03-30 03:05
Subject:To Do

I need to buy my plane ticket to China before prices get out of hand. I also need to tell my teachers that I'll be in San Antonio for Nationals from April 10 to April 14. It appears as though my propensity to procrastinate has returned with full force. This does not bode well for the last four weeks of the semester.

Speaking of China, I'm finally starting to realize just how easy it is to forget characters. Previously, I thought that a character, once learned, stayed in at least the subconscious forever. Regrettably, this appears not to be the case. I'm afraid of what will happen during the several weeks between the end of the semester and the beginning of the program in Beijing. Perhaps I should preemptively immerse myself in the language (i.e. visit Chinatown every day). We'll see.

In other news, Tim Be Told is incomprehensibly amazing. Thanks to the enthusiasm of Dan and Kevin, I bought their album on iTunes, and it turned out to be one of the smartest purchases of my life. I would highly encourage anyone reading this to listen for himself/herself and be blown away (fourteen times, for each of the fourteen songs on TBT's album).

With that, I end this disjointed entry and go to bed, where I should have been three hours ago.

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Date:2008-03-24 22:47

Some people go into science because it comes easiest to them. Other people go into science simply because they love science. As surprising as this may sound to people who know me well, for most of my life I've been part of the former category. I'm not tooting my own horn; I now simply accept it as a fact that I'm far better with math and science than with the humanities. In high school, this manifested itself in the form of me taking the highest level math and science classes that North Hollywood offered, and joining both Science Bowl and Science Olympiad. To be honest, even those classes, and much of the monotony and rote memorization of Bowl and Oly, often did not engage me nearly as much as I would have hoped.

So, you ask, have things changed at all in the past semester and a half?

While I do sometimes have to search deep within myself to find the motivation to attend lecture, I've found that I'm almost never disappointed with what each class has to offer. It really boils down to how I'm learning the material; whereas in high school, most of the material was simply lore that teachers threw at us in hopes that we would remember all of it, the things I'm learning now actually get me to wonder about the core principles of how things work. That sounds very vague and generic, but it's true. Why do two atoms come together and form a covalent bond? Before, I would have said that they "want" to share their electrons; now, I can visualize the entire process as a matter of mathematically-derived orbitals and quantized energy levels. Granted, that doesn't mean much to someone who has no background in the subject, but it makes a huge difference for me. Why does electromagnetic radiation propagate through space at the speed of light? Before, I would have said, "It just does." Now, I can work out the governing equations behind both electric and magnetic fields and realize for myself that those fields do and must travel at the speed of light.

At the same time, digging deeper into these fields and discovering the very fundamentals of the universe often leaves me even more in wonder. How can the human body, with its many many proteins, enzymes, and biochemical processes, be so complex that scientists have trouble decoding even the most basic of the proteins? Why is it that Gauss's Theorem and Stokes' Theorem, seemingly completely abstract concepts from multivariable calculus, can describe the physical reality of electromagnetic fields? Why are there "fundamental" particles, and why do they happen to interact in the way they do? Perhaps most perplexing of all, why are human beings able to even think about, much less comprehend, science?

My point is not that taking college science classes has just made me more confused. It's that, by exploring these subjects at a depth I never knew was possible for me, I'm beginning to realize that the truly important questions are the ones that no class will ever completely answer. They're the questions that, when contemplated, reveal that the workings of the universe are beautiful, perfect, and paradoxically both intricate and accessible. It's almost overwhelming to be out walking along the sidewalk and to realize that if the laws of physics were just slightly altered, nothing I see or experience would exist. For me, the fact that I am here and that I can think about all this is a strong indication that everything that exists has a purpose. We live and strive toward an often unconscious objective that is greater than anything anyone could ever imagine.

What do you guys think?

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Date:2008-03-05 13:42

Click clickCollapse )


Wait until you get to the "remix" part. I actually laughed out loud and startled my roommate.

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Date:2008-02-25 17:13

In lieu of a real post, here's something I typed up last night while I was "studying" in the library. Most of it is nonsensical, even to me. I guess my thought processes go kind of strange when I'm tired.

Watch out for randomnessCollapse )

My pens keep disappearing. I don't know where they go. I started off this semester with four or five of them, and now I have none. Oh well. I hope they're happy, wherever they've run off to.

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Date:2008-02-18 20:03
Subject:Ducks on display

From today's Chinese reading:

"Peking Roast Ducks (北京烤鸭 Beijing kaoya) is famous for its rich taste. Visit to Beijing without eating the Peking Roast Duck will be regarded as incomplete and unforgivable. Also try appetizers such as fried duck livers, peeled duck-feet webs served cold in wasabi-taste mustard sauce. Don't worry about the calories! A duck dinner should be followed by a trip to the Great Wall and completed by climbing to the top."


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Date:2008-02-13 14:30
Subject:What to do on rainy days

For your amusement, I present a collection of quotes from Ramamurti Shankar, professor of physics at Yale University.

Disclaimer: May contain excessive nerdiness.Collapse )

And, for health-conscious individuals in the Connecticut area...

Flu Report for CTCollapse )

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Date:2008-02-07 10:29
Subject:红包, Facebook

Last Tuesday, I jokingly suggested to 王老师 that for Chinese New Year's Day, 她应该带一些红包给她的学生们。She actually brought some today, with chocolate inside instead of 钱. The Chinese teachers at Yale are so cool.

In other news, I feel obligated to offer an explanation as to why my Facebook no longer exists. I've giving it up for Lent, in hopes that I'll be able to do something more constructive with all the time I used to spend Facebooking. I've definitely noticed an increase in sleep and productivity, so the endeavor has not been in vain (I think). In any case, now that I don't have a wall for people to post on, I'll be relying on email a lot more to keep me posted on recent happenings. If you have anything important to say to me, or if you're bored and feel like making my day, please send me an email at james[dot]kim[at]yale[dot]edu.

On a related note, has anyone else noticed that email isn't outdated technology for college students? In fact, I think my inbox spends more time open than AIM. Curious.

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Date:2008-01-14 20:45
Subject:On dining... and snow

I never realized, until this past weekend, how much more enjoyable meals are when accompanied by good friends and meaningful conversation. I got back around midday on Saturday feeling voraciously hungry, so I tried to contact anybody I could to invite to lunch/dinner. Unfortunately, everybody was either not picking up, not in New Haven, or just plain unavailable. Also, because the dining halls were closed, I had to eat at East Melange.

... Something just felt wrong about eating Chinese food without other people to sample my food, or to sample food from. Hmm.

In any case, I'm glad that the semester has finally begun. I am ready to be a relatively productive student again, instead of the totally useless lump that I was for the majority of winter break.

Also, today's snow was flawlessly pretty. I felt like prancing about and pretending to be living out a corny romance film montage, but then I decided that I had better things to do. Like try to not fail my first Chinese quiz.

Maybe I'll prance tomorrow.

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Date:2008-01-11 03:17

During junior and senior year, I had to wake up at 5:30 every morning because I lived so far away from North Hollywood. Most of the time, this wasn't really a problem, since I slept for the entire ride from home to school, with a small break in the middle to transfer from my mom's car to the school bus. (For those of you who didn't attend high school with me, my house was entirely out of the school district, which meant that my mom had to drive me to the closest bus stop, about half an hour away without traffic.)

A few times though, when my mom didn't have other matters to attend to and when she was feeling up to it, she drove me the entire way to school. I liked these days because the ride was actually long enough for me to go through a sleep cycle, which meant that I woke up feeling rested. Also, making that transition from deep sleep to full consciousness when the car pulled up to school was often very interesting. One time, I sat there for a full minute, trying to unbuckle my seatbelt which I had in fact already subconsciously unbuckled earlier. My mom looked at me strangely until she realized what I was trying to do, and then she laughed at me and told me to get out of the car.

Actually, during senior year, my morning nap almost always extended into first period. Mr. Hatem generally didn't have a problem with me sleeping through biology, as long as I kept up my grade. (That's not to say that he didn't make fun of me for it though... He was relentless, in fact.) I suppose this was largely the reason why I was almost voted most likely to fall asleep during graduation. I think it's rather amusing that I was also voted most HGM-to-the-core. It sends an interesting message about the values of the program.

I'm not sure why I'm reminiscing about high school. I suppose it's as worthy an endeavor as any, since it's 3:30 AM on my last day in LA and I have nothing better to do.

One last point of interest. I entered my first photography competition yesterday, using an old photo from my family Yosemite trip last summer. After cropping it and touching up the brightness in Photoshop, it actually looked rather decent. I hope the evaluation panel thinks so too.

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Date:2008-01-05 01:01
Subject:Pop pop

I was shopping for a new printer with my dad at Staples the other day, and I saw bags of bubble wrap for sale. I was incredibly tempted to buy all of them, just so I could pop away whenever I got bored. I had to resist though; not only were they $5 per bag, but I also realized that the sound of popping bubble wrap would probably drive my roommate insane in a matter of days.

Sigh. I guess I'll just have to content myself with virtual bubble wrap for now.

Anyway... there's really no point to this post. It's 1 AM and my dog is snoring away, precluding my sleep for at least another half hour. But at least now you know one of my guilty pleasures.

Oh, by the way: 这有一点儿晚,可是... Happy new year, everyone! Get out there and do those resolutions proud.

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Date:2007-12-25 00:00

I finally decided to start taking photography seriously today. That is, I cracked open my camera's 200-page manual and began reading through it, even though I felt lost after about page ten. To celebrate the occasion, I created my first flickr account under the name "Aplomb," which dictionary.com defines as "imperturbable self-possession, poise, or assurance." It seemed appropriate--not only does the act of taking a good photograph require a certain poise, but a good photograph itself should inspire composure and thoughtfulness. At least, I think so.

Anyway, you can find the account here. I've only uploaded two photos for now, and I doubt I'll upload any more than one or two per week from now on. This account is only a convenient way for me to see how I improve with time, and I'm especially interested to see how my style will change once I take an actual photography class (hopefully next year). Feel free to comment, especially on what I can improve or modify.

In other news, I'm addicted to 귤, which I believe are called mandarins in English. They're irresistibly cute and small and sweet and delicious. One of these days, I'm going to eat only mandarins for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Yum.

Finally, Merry Christmas everyone! (I set the time stamp for midnight so that I wouldn't be an hour early for the west coasters.) I hope this holiday season finds you safe, happy, and warm, wherever you may be.

Christmas verseCollapse )

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Date:2007-12-17 02:25
Subject:So it goes...

More thoughts on life. Read only if you have nothing better to do.Collapse )

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my journal