Friday, February 29, 2008

I finally did it!!

So, I got the whim last night (My life is basically one whim after another without forethought sigh) to get rid of my Yahoo account and finally move over to the far superior Gmail where things don't work on a time delay. The operation kinda extended into today also since I have to basically dig up every single website account I can find and change my contact email. What a pain!! I guess the move will not be complete for at least a few more month as obscure websites I don't even remember pops up an email notification. But at least right now, I Feel happy. Yall can email me at the same address as this blog :D

Thursday, February 28, 2008

exciting AI

So here is some new AI our team is developing right now, very exciting!!

Monday, February 25, 2008

whirlwind of a trip

New York Album
As you may have heard, I went on a whirlwind trip to New York City this weekend to see my most favorite idol Clay Aiken, who is playing Sir Robin in Mont Python's Spamalot on Broadway. This is a really fantastic moment for Clay fans everywhere since he is actually doing something cool after being completely shafted by his record company with the last album. My friend Regi and Sillygurl bought tickets as soon as the tour was announced so we got 2nd row center tickets. We had to pay an arm and teeth for them but it was all worth it for this once in a lifetime show.

I was actually overly ambitious in my plan as I didn't want to take any vacation so I thought I could do a red eye flight to NY from Seattle and arrive Saturday at 8am. Hang out with friends, go see the show and come back on a 4pm flight on Sunday. Now everything worked out perfectly but I was dead tired as I only got one hour of sleep on Friday night and I was having way too much fun to rest afterwards. So this is not highly recommended haha.

After I got to our hotel, the Westin Time Square, I found out that we got upgraded to an "exercise room", which means there is an exercise bike in the room, along with weights and a big rubber ball. Although i have no idea how you suppose to do anything with it since with the exercise bike there is barely any room to stand. I also have to comment on the amazing $200 shower head in the bathroom (everything in the room can be ordered by catalog). OMg, it was totally amazing, emitting just the most gentle yet totally satisfying stream of water that softly massages your body.... err i will stop now.

First Stop: Rockefeller Center

We made Rockefeller Center our first stop because Sillygurl really wanted to tour the NBC Studio which is located inside 30 Rock. I totally didn't know that so we were all looking forward to it. The NBC Studios offers an hour tour of the studio and some of the sound stages. We signed up for the 1:30 tour, since we still had about an hour to kill we decided to look around the conveniently located gift shop right outside the ticketing counter. Among Friends mugs and Heroes shirts I found this lovely cardboard of Matt Lauer.

Unfortunately we were not allowed to take pictures on the tour, but it was really interesting to see the inside of a TV station. The first thing we saw was literally hundreds and hundreds of coaxial cable wires running along the ceiling. I joked with Regi that if I sneaked up and cut one, it will take them days to figure out which one broke. Then I heard the people behind me say exactly the same thing -_-!! Then we saw the studio where Brian Williams does nightly news. Apparently he writes 90% of the news himself and he writes them down in order from last to first so that when he starts reporting, the first item will be fresh in his mind. We also saw people working in MSNBC studio, which of course has 24/7 news. The anchor desk actually rotates 270 degrees so people don't get bored watching the same background all the time. The news people working in there has two computer and a TV each, one computer to write their drafts, the other to keep constant watch on the Internet for any breaking news from the competitors, and they get TV feed from all the news channel running all the time just to make sure they don't miss a scoop. (come to think about it, 24 hour surfing sounds like a perfect job for me!!). We then went to the SNL studio and since it was Saturday, we were able to see the crew rehearse a skit. Tina Fey was there and it was very cool to see live TV in the making! Carrie Underwood was the music guest on Sat and they say she was actually in the building preparing! too bad we didn't get to see her. Lastly, we were taken to a green room (make up room) where they had a fake news desk and weather screen set up and they asked for volunteers. Regi and this kid volunteered first but then the kid was too scared and backed out and I seized the opportunity! So Regi got to report the news and I got to stand in front of the green screen and wave my arms. IT was so difficult because the monitor in front of me was not a mirror image but an real reflection so everything I did looked backwards. The guide walked me through pointing at New York, (I totally got it backwards the first time), then the west coast, and then pointing to various numbers on the screen like High, Low and Sunset time. After I got the direction down, he said "now, you gotta read the lines on the teleprompter AND do the pointing!" OH boy!! I was able to pull it through tho (thank god for multi tasking skills) and I only almost missed New York because I didn't realize when they say weather "here" it means NY hahah. It was loads of fun, too bad they didn't have videos for us, I would have totally paid for that!!

Second Stop: Ground Zero

The last time I was in New York was before 9/11 and I barely even remember seeing the WTC, so now that I am back, ground zero is a must trip. For some reason in my head, I had the idea that they had already built the memorial, but of course that is not the case, the area is still a hole lined with concrete and a small tent with a small display. It was still a very powerful experience, especially seeing the list of all those people that died. The lone guy sitting on the ground doing "Amazing Grace" on the flute really moved me.

Stop 3: Spamalot
Ok ok, I will spare everyone the details, Needless to say, Clay was amazing, the show was actually really awesome in itself. I highly recommended if you ever get a chance (it is on tour). Truly hilarious and silly stuff.

The only sad thing is that usually Clay goes out to sign autographs after the show. But this weekend he was sick so he didn't come out. and we will not get another chance sigh. But its ok, the show was totally enjoyable, as well as the Baked Alaska at Sardi's at our after show party.

A brief note about Sardi's, I have never been to a restaurant that is so fancy and old fashioned. When we sat down, they started handing out little plates and silverware, in anticipation for dinner. and then when we all sat down, we said we probably wanted desserts instead since it was late, then the waiter came and took all our plates and silverware away with perfect calmness. And then after we read the menu, Sillygurl decided to order an appetizer, then the waiter still perfectly calm, came back and laid the plates and silverware back out for her! Also you don't see the waiters running back and forth like in other restaurants, they almost have one waiter for every two tables. That is taking dinner procedure to the extreme!!

Stop 4: Canal Street
SillyGurl was determined not to leave NY without doing some shopping, so we headed out to the famed Canal Street, famed of course for its thousands of tiny stalls selling Chinese counterfeit everything. It was quite an amazing sight even though I am quite familiar with various flea market stalls in other parts of the world. I gathered from quick browsing that counterfeit Dolce and Gabbana bags are totally in!! I also saw counterfeit Burberry scarfs that were exactly the same as mine, this infused me with a brief feeling of superiority for having the real thing haha. Speaking of bags, it is probably one of the most fascinating things about Canal street. Because like I said before, all bags being displayed are D&G and you don't see anything else. But then you notice when you are walking, there are all these shady Chinese women sneaking up to you and whispering in your ear "do you want see hand bag?"., reminiscent of some other street peddlers of illegal product often shown on TV. if you say yes, they direct you to some back alley (soo sketchy) and take you into this little camouflaged door, go up these tiny narrow stairs into a windowless small room where you finally found out where all the "good" stuff is. IF you ask how come I know so much about this, that is because we did exactly this thing. We found ourselves in a tiny room that is filled with counterfeit Coach, DB, Fendi and Gucci bags all selling for $30 ish. They are pretty good counterfeit too. I was totally amazed at the secret operation that is going on. All the peddlers have walkie talkie and are in constant communication which I assume is to plan escapes in case the inspectors come. I didn't end up buying anything ( not really into designer bags) but that was certainly an experience.

After our brief encounter with the underbelly of the counterfeit handbag business, it was time to fly home. I had a really good time in NY, saw my favorite guy in one of his best roles in his career, hang out with wonderful friends and saw some truly amazing things. Not bad for one and a half days eh?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


I went and saw "Juno" last night. It was a really sweet and funny movie, very irreverent. If you don't know the plotline, it is basically about how a highschool junior got pregnant and found this couple to adopt the baby. Juno is the main character, a slightly weird, very independent, totally reckless kind of a girl who decided to have sex on a whim and then when got pregnant by accident, picked her own adoption couple. Her whole family was a little off kilter and dysfunctional but they have lots of tolerance and love and affection for each other which is really all you can ask for in a family. I really respect Juno alot (well except for the sex education part she missed). She is quirky and cynical, and yet still full of optimism for love. She does what she wants and doesnt' care about anybody else's opinion. I wish I could be more like her in spirit. All in all, a great movie! Very deserving of the Oscar nomination.

P.S> my other sad thought is that I am so old i can no longer understand all the teenage speak anymore :( oh and American teenagers are totally scaaaryyyy...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Lunar Eclipse Tonight

There will be a total eclipse tonight around 7 pm PST (or your appropriate time zone). I am looking outisde and it has fogged up like Veliu's goggles on the slopes so I am giving up. You guys should check the weather!! :)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Obama Rally

My friend Om is a big Obama supporter who has convinced me that he will be a good choice for President. So I decided to go with him to the big Obama rally on Friday at noon at Key Arena. I have never seen him giving his speech in person and I wanted to check it out as I heard it is an incredibly inspiring experience. We heard on the radio that the doors will open at 11 am and Obama will probably start his speech an hour later. So we decided to leave from Campus at 11 am. This turned out to be a really bad idea. Because traffic was horrible when we got there at 11:30. We finally got parking, walked towards to arena. As we approached, we saw that there was a huge crowd outside. I wondered if they were the line waiting to get in. we grabbed a rally worker and asked him if this was the line to get in. He then looked at us with pity and said "no, the doors are already closed. The arena is full, these people are waiting outside because they are going to pipe out the speech on the loud speaker" !!??!! The arena was full? it seats 17000!!!. People are waiting outside? it is 40 degrees and raining!!. We were quite dismaybed but determined to stay til the end. After about half an hour of waiting and my hand has frozen over, Obama arrived amid thunderous applause and screaming. He was very nice enough to stop outside the arena and talked to us using a bullhorn. Thanking us for coming out and telling us that change is possible. He was able to whip the crowd into a frenzy with jsut a few words. People were chanting "Yes we can" and "Obama" over and over again. I have only seen this kind of united fervor at rock concerts. I have finally seen first hand the power he has to bring people together.

We stood in the cold and listened to his speech which had a theme of "Hope". He spoke about our nation's problems and the difficulty of solving them. But mostly he spoke of hope. Not false hope and optimism that everything will be ok. But hope that if we work together and towards a common goal we will be able to overcome the obstacles. One thing really made an impression on my mind. He mentioned that one of his goal is to work towards real "Peace in the World". I kinda snickered to Om and said "Peace In The World eh!!??". It was more like a joke. Om only laughed but this lady in front of me heard me, turned around and said "well if we all believed and worked towards it it can happen". I felt a little bit of shame for being so cynical but mostly I was impressed at the example of the kind of people he can bring together. People that believe in his vision, people who are practical but not cynical. In short, people that have conviction and hope. So I believe that if these are the type of people he can inspire to work for him. He can really accomplish things.

I found out that he won the WA caucus today, making him one step to the presidential nomination. I have nothing against Hillary actually. I think she is a very experienced and capable politician. Frankly, anyone would be better than some Republican in my mind. But I think there is something about Obama that are kind of intangible. If he gets elected in the general election, perhaps we will see some real difference in Washington. Time will tell!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

need ideas!!

so I am charged with the task of creating a demo game for the Game Developer's Conference next week. It is suppose to showcase our ability to take a media library and choose songs and play songs and show the album (think like Windows Media Player) but in a game form. So far all we came up with is a guessing game, where we will play a clip of a song, and then show you a bunch of choices and you have to guess which song is it or which album it came from. I will probably implement this first since of the time crunch, but can you guys think of any better idea of a more fun music game I can do?

Friday, February 01, 2008

Jump! Jump!

M watches TV every day in the morning before work. Mostly "Good Morning America" so sometimes she tells me news and stuff although usually GMA is much behind than the webnews. But there is some news that I can't really get from my net browsing. One of them is local concert news. So the other day M came by quite innocently and said "did you know that Riverdance is here??" I answered "no really? thats nice" absentmindedly. Then M said "They are only here for one week! next week! at the paramount!!". I stared at her for a couple of seconds and then got the hint and went to buy tickets. This is quite unusual for M because she is pretty typical Chinese lady in that would never actually go out and say what she wants.

imagine our dinner out conversations..
M: What should we do Sunday ??
Cat: well we usually go out and eat. do you want to go out and eat on Sunday?
M: oh ok, if you want to...
Cat: .. sure.. where do you want to go.
M: wherever you want to go...
Cat: what do you feel like eating
M: whatever you feel like eating
Cat: -____-!!!

Anywayz, this is pretty strong hint for her so in my infinite effort to encourage her assertiveness (except in cases where she is yelling at me =P ), I immediately went and bought tickets and we end up going last night. The theatre was packed with enthusiastic Riverdance fans. The dance troupe was quite excellent. IT always amazes me how incredibly insync 20 pairs of legs can be. Even though they are mostly Irish dancers, they also had a flamenco dancer and some Russian cartwheelers that was quite excellent as well. THe highlight of the show was a Dance Battle between two guys doing American street tap dance and 3 guys doing Irish tapdance. It was so hilarious as they would mock the other team's dance by doing it really badly. So definitely had a good time. Although I am still waiting for the day when I will be coming home and M was there and tells me "hey, I heard Riverdance is playing, lets go see it, I bought tickets today" :D