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January 19, 2005

Volleyball in the Winter

After a much needed hiatus for the holidays, I got back into regular exercise this week. On Saturday, braved the chill and the rain to do a short hike with J, who just recently moved out here. A short part of the hike was through icy snow, which was pretty frustrating and a bit precarious on the steeper grades. Lots of little steps. It was pretty rewarding, though, and a great time.

Which is good, because the next day I was paying the price. I probably should have put on the hat that I'd brought with me, but hindsight is 20/20... ended up coming down with a cold that I've been fighting off for the past couple of days. I'm finally past the worst part, now it's just stuffy nose, coughing, and sore throat. This caused me to miss soccer on Sunday, which is a shame. Honestly, I don't know what I was thinking agreeing to an outdoor soccer league in the winter.

Anyway, tonight, I resumed the volleyball too, after not having played for a good 5 weeks. It took me a while to remember how to pass, serve, and hit, let alone where I was supposed to be and what was going on. I felt pretty lost for a good ten minutes before it started coming back. Hahaha. But it did, and I had a great time. It also felt good to get out of the house and do something active after being under arrest by this cold for the past 3 days.

As part of the get in shape plan, I'm probably going to play soccer every Sunday, volleyball on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, take Thursday and Friday off, and hike on Saturdays. At least until the weather gets nice enough to play volleyball on the beach again. Then, I'll have to adjust this whole thing again. But by then the days will be long enough to hike after work during the week, so it should be a good switcheroo.

Well. I'll get in shape yet!

PGP Signed Entry

January 17, 2005

Ikea and the crushing fatalism

There's nothing like a Sunday afternoon trip to Ikea to reinforce the notion that humanity is, truly, doomed.

The moment we walked into the place, the dank stench of wet humanity overpowered us. I mean, when you get that many people together in one place on a rainy, humid day, what do you expect? Nasty. Didn't help that we'd just eaten. I nearly "redecorated" a PoƤng right there on the spot.

Now one thing that Americans definitely take for granted is their wide open spaces and their vast tracts of personal space. I've written before about the discomfort I felt in China at the lack of personal space. The thing is, when you've already found what you're looking for and just want to make a beeline for the register, these hordes can be quite frustrating. Not really because there's so many, but rather that they're all sauntering about aimlessly. It's like the airport tango; sometimes you have to dance around people. Inevitably, when there are enough people, you gotta get a little close to dance. I have to chuckle at Americans' discomfort at getting this close. Maybe it says something about their attitude towards other countries too...

All this aside, one has to be left wondering why people buy some of that stuff. I mean, when you first get out of school maybe that stuff seems like a pretty cool deal, but honestly. It just ain't that good. Pretty devoid of character, and not really constructed that well either. Cheap though... I guess that goes for something.

So after all this criticism, you may be wondering what I was doing there. No, not furniture. Just wine glasses. Someone had turned me onto the fact that they sell wine glasses for 4 bucks a half dozen. Perfect for a wine tasting party... so I guess there are uses for Ikea. Just gotta remember never to go on a weekend!

PGP Signed Entry

January 13, 2005


Darnit. All you too-motivated people out there with your resolutions on your blogs. So here are my goals, in general, for 2005.

Summit Mt. Rainier. This is in preparation for the first goal of 2006, Summit Mt. Kilimanjaro. This goal, of course, involves a lot of other things, such as watching my nutrition better, getting into the same shape I was in during soccer season in high school, and learning how to not die on a mountain.

Play a lot of volleyball. Indoor and beach.

Play a lot of soccer. Outdoor only, I can't stand indoor soccer. Continue to amaze my teammates, and earn the respect of opponents, win or lose.

Keep getting out more. And I'm not just talking about going out with my friends to the same places and things that we've always done. I'm talking about trying out new places, meeting new people, making new friends. I've done pretty well over the past year, but it's time to kick it up a notch... One thing that I haven't been very good at since leaving college is Building Friendships. There are a lot of reasons for this, within and outside of my control. I'm going to do everything I can to overcome the reasons that are in my control.

Continue the Resistance. Yes, the Republicans are firmly in control. That doesn't mean I'm going to roll over and let them rape me. Did de Gaulle give up when the Nazis marched into Paris? No. Vive la Resistance!

Not be so averse to dating, especially someone from whom I am not separated by an ocean. The last few years have been spent very selfishly, and I'm actually really glad for it. You might say I've taken the time to "find myself," whatever that means. I'm comfortable with myself, my place in the world, etc. In other words, I feel like I won't end up destroying myself or someone else if things don't work out.

Rediscover my love of photography. I recently broke out my Nikon N6006 SLR and shot a couple of rolls. I loved it so much that I'm going to pick up a D70 in short order and reacquaint myself with the art of photography, while bringing my art into the digital era. I'm tired of making pictures with that point and shoot nonsense; there's no passion in it.

Nurture my love of music. I realized recently that I've allowed my hatred of the music industry to blind me to some really good artists and their music lately. I still hate the industry, but I'm not going to let that interfere with my enjoying good music anymore. Futhermore, this rediscovery of music appreciation has awakened my passion for making music. I sat down at the piano for hours at a time nearly every day when I was back at my parents' place for Christmas, and I loved it. I'd like to make music again regularly, whether that means piano or trombone or a new instrument, I'm not sure yet. Of course, can't forget going to karaoke all night.

Travel a little more than last year, but not as much as I used to do in the heyday. Maybe a weekend trip every 4-6 weeks to visit old friends scattered about the country, with a couple of international trips thrown in there, especially the upcoming Chinese New Year trip to visit family.

Hang Glide. For goodness sake, I can't believe I didn't fly at all last year. This is a travesty that I intend to make up for, in spades, this year. Along those lines, I intend to achieve my Hang 3 rating this year.

Keep playing poker for fun and profit.

Host more parties. People tell me that I know how to throw a party. I intend to prove them right.

There are some others. Mostly in the "righting some wrongs" category, but not ready for prime time yet. Maybe next year I can talk about them in retrospect.

PGP Signed Entry

January 7, 2005

Technology Update

It's been a good couple of months for me in terms of acquisition of new toys. The most significant of these is that I got myself a Dell 2005 FPW LCD display. It's been a very long time since I've had a display with more than 1280 pixels horizontal resolution, and the first wide aspect monitor I've owned. My impression after a week of use is nothing short of love. I have it hooked up to my PowerBook via DVI, and to my XBox via (yes, I know this is ghetto) composite. The controls are easy to use, and the display is sharp and bright. Colors are pretty good, although not quite as vivid as on the Apple Cinema Displays at twice the price. This is one of those purchases that has actually changed the way I use my computer. I gotta say, nothing beats the dual-screen action. I find myself using the Dell as my primary workspace, and the 1024x768 built-in panel on the PowerBook as a "status" screen, where I keep my mail reader, iTunes, chat client, etc. I just can't believe I waited this long to get this thing... though the $559 price tag was the real catalyst. I don't even notice the single dead subpixel, fortunately.

With the newfangled monitor and the XBox, it was time to upgrade the audio in my bedroom. I didn't want to spend a ton of money, though, so I sucked it up and went with one of those "multimedia" speaker sets that I pooh-poohed until recently. I picked up the Klipsch GMX A-2.1 speaker set a couple of days ago. The sound quality is good, for what it is. I mean, my high-brow audiophile ears can clearly pick up all the deficiencies, but for general computing, light movie watching, casual music, and light gaming purposes, they are pretty darn good. I picked these guys instead of the JBL Soundsticks because they sound better, just slightly. Yes, you sacrifice a ton in terms of visual aesthetics, and it was almost enough to make me go the other way, in the end I went with these because of the $149 price tag, compared to the $199 for the Soundsticks. Curiously, JBL's website lists the Soundsticks for $169, but the Apple Store (web and brick versions) has 'em for $199. Oh well, I would have gone with them for $169.

This, of course, brings us back to the Airport Express. That little box is just amazing. For a while I was just using it to extend my wireless network and for AirTunes. I now have it hooked up to my printer so I can print to it wirelessly from any machine on my network. And, get this: I am also using it to get my XBox on my wireless network! Yes, an undocumented feature of this amazing little device is that it can act as an ethernet to wireless bridge if it is operating as a remote base station in a WDS network. It was literally plug and play with the XBox: I just hooked up the ethernet port and off it went. So it makes me feel pretty good about myself that I'm using the full capability of the Airport Express: WDS remote base station, print server, AirTunes, and ethernet to wireless bridge. Sweet.

Two purchases I'm seriously considering in the near future: Digital SLR camera and digital piano. Note that both of these are attempts to get back to arts that I've been neglecting for a while. I broke out my old Nikon N6006 recently and shot a couple of rolls of film; I enjoyed myself so thoroughly that moving that part of my life into the digital age is inevitable. Also, on a recent visit to my parents' house, I sat down at the piano for an extended amount of time, and even though I didn't have any of the music anymore, I practice some of the old songs that I used to know how to play. Again, very enjoyable, and I felt it stirred a yearning I've been feeling since I started listening to classical music again.

I'll keep you posted on the developments as they arise...

PGP Signed Entry

January 4, 2005

Changes for the New Year

What a wonderful year 2004 was, and what a great start 2005 has gotten off to!

With the new year come some changes to the venerable Shanghai Yummy, now entering its fourth year of random nonsense spouting. Thanks to yuki, we are now updated to the Modern Era with Movable Type 3. This means, for the time being, that most of my templates have reverted back to the defaults, and it means that most of the pages will be nasty looking. I'll get around to this when I get around to it...

The other major change is that I have decided to regulate the comments. Yes, I am a stauch advocate of free speech. However, I am an equally staunch advocate of not letting bullshit assholes use my website to make money off of dumb unsuspecting people by jacking up their Google page rankings. So like so many things in life, a balance must be struck. Therefore, I will moderate all comments that do not come from registered typekey users. I am not interested in preventing you from making a fool of yourself; so as long as your post doesn't include advertising I'm cool with that. If you do post something that has advertising in it, I will approve the post after receipt of funds per my advertising policy.

Have fun this year!

PGP Signed Entry