Glowstick Fragments

Echoes.


On the HSR we kill time with weird games from Kevan Davis’s Freeze-Dried Games Pack, mostly Thirty-One. Then we’re there!

On the bus we kill time with karaoke, until people complain. Sorry.

Lunch at Chinese restaurant. Beach resort.

I spend the first one and a half hours holed up in my hotel room watching television, first a quiz show where the host asks foreigners living in Taiwan questions about the country’s culture and society, then Disney and Cartoon Network cartoons. During the commercial breaks I do cryptic crosswords I had brought along. This is something I self-deprecatingly talk about for the rest of the trip, but I have no regrets because the three cartoons I watch are literally my top three guilty pleasure cartoons, Ben 10, Teen Titans Go!, and Jake Long: American Dragon.

Then I wander around and join some guys playing pool. I do better than I expect, once pocketing three balls in sequential moves. There is also a Kinect with a dancing game, which I also score surprisingly well at and have lots of fun playing.

Dinner, in which I eat 小卷 (“pencil squids”?) with way way way too much wasabi. I stuff myself and walk around chatting and eventually learn there are freshly-made 手卷 (“temaki” / “hand roll”) downstairs. Since there’s lots of time I wait until I’m less full and eat two.

Group activity outside corresponds eerily to the one three years ago: shouting, dancing, waving glowsticks, arbitrary dance moves, punishment games, cooperation games, a competition where the guide gives out points that don’t matter like on Whose Line Is It Anyway?

Empty promises… but okay. Class songs. (This is the explicit version. This song is well above the normal offensiveness rating of this blog and I usually prefer official videos, instead of shady lyric videos probably made from Windows Movie Maker that might get taken down, but honestly I find the pathetic execution of censorship in the VEVO version more offensive.)

After it we have a sentimental moment listening to “See You Again”.

At night our room flips through television and watches the second half of Iron Man 2.

Continue reading

Throwback Thursday Puzzles!

Wow, there are so many cool things in my old folder. I could probably create and schedule enough filler posts to make my streak last through my week-long trip and back. I guess I won’t, though, because I don’t want to dilute my textwall-draft brand more than necessary and there are a few text posts that I fully intend to post before leaving. Or at least one. Although on second thought, it’s possible they might actually not be as interesting as posts like this one about the adorable me from the past. As Pablo Picasso once said, “Youth has no age.” (Yes, I totally just went on BrainyQuote and searched for “youth”. Forgive me, please.) Oh well.

Today’s throwback theme is old puzzles! Particularly picture ones! In reverse chronological order by last modified time, because I said so! All the image puzzles are puzzlehunty in the sense that you’re supposed to end up with a single word or short phrase as your final answer.

art/hidd3n/p06pre2.png (2010/10/31)

p06pre2

A straightforward one to start. I have no idea what’s with the filename, though.

haxxor/purity2/logic.html (2010/10/10?)

My file hierarchy is really weird. I don’t think this time stamp is when I wrote the puzzle because it was part of a silly static site setup I created (but never actually put anywhere), and I probably edited and regenerated stuff like the breadcrumbs many times, but it’ll have to do.

This is also funny because the title of the HTML file is “Logic Puzzles” and the description starts, “These puzzles were made when I was really bored…”, but there’s only one puzzle.

Well, it’s better than an under construction page, I guess.

I’ll quote the entirety of the old instructions as I wrote them, even though they’re really verbose, since it’s easy to scroll past them:

Continue reading

8 Songs for 18 Years

At some point I thought, hmm, maybe this blog would benefit from some more sentimental, memory-capturing music/videos, like I chose for my end of 2013 post or my end of 2014 post. (Yeah, I link to my own posts alarmingly often. I think that’s kind of weird. I don’t know.)

Obviously, because you’re reading this already, I decided to follow through with that idea. There’s no particular significance for posting this now — it’s not my birthday or anything, as the title might suggest; it just has a nice ring to it — except of course that I’m starting to get mildly desperate for content for my daily posting streak exercise. Standard disclaimers apply.

This is mostly for my future self. I should note that, although I like these songs, this is not a list of my absolute most favorite songs ever. You can tell because there isn’t any Coldplay or fun. (the band.) Instead, each of these songs was chosen to be meaningful to myself and my life in at least two different ways that generally don’t overlap with the other songs. This was difficult but I think I managed it — you know, how constraint breeds creativity and everything? Also, they’re arranged by approximate chronological order of impact. But it also means that this list isn’t going to be that meaningful to anybody other than myself.

Also, I have a long list of class-of-2015 sentimental songs, which I’m not including here because I think there are so many that they deserve a separate post. Will I avoid procrastinating and feeling awkward for long enough to make such a post? Stay tuned!

*shrugs* Whatever, enjoy the music or stop reading now if you want.

1: Simon & Garfunkel – Scarborough Fair/Canticle

Continue reading

Two Points on Photography

(Uncohesive blog content, posted as part of a daily posting streak I have openly committed to; standard disclaimers apply. Whew, made it by a few minutes…)

This essay was partly inspired by but mostly orthogonal in purpose to dzaefn’s essay on a similar subject, Humans, Photographs, and Names. I agree with many of its points, although I deviate in that I think it’s more important for my Facebook picture to identify me than to inform about me (there’s the rest of Facebook, plus my maybe half a dozen other sites, for doing so). Part of the problem for me there, and part of the reason I hang on to my nine-letter random handle from fourth grade, is that my names, first and last, are so commonplace. Among the people who share them (according to DuckDuckGo) are a New York Times tech writer, more than one computer science professor, a photographer, a couple doctors, and some guy who did some sort of graphics work for a short clip and two movies. This means that, to somebody not already in my social circles trying to match me to my account, my Facebook photo is my primary tool for disambiguating myself from all these other people, and I don’t think there is anything that could do that job quite as precisely as a picture of my actual face and body.

Still, I agree enough to be bothered by having a profile picture suffering from “the whole extent of photographic informational void”. I always planned to add some GIMP layers to the photo to indicate context and content more precisely. Except I procrastinated and it got more and more awkward to do this as time went by, since as far as I know, normal people update their profile pictures only to reflect more recent events, especially when they’re important. Like, you know, graduating from high school? So yes, I’ve been waiting to do this for an entire year now.

Eh, to hell with awkwardness. That’s the spirit of this daily-posting exercise.

(Fun fact: The code in what I’m about to set as my profile picture, if I don’t procrastinate even more, is real IOI 2014 code I submitted successfully (for rail, as previously featured; the visually selected fragment was the key fix for the final bug I fixed). Except I actually had to manually retype my code printout to get the picture because I lacked the foresight (sound familiar?) to save an electronic copy of my IOI submissions.)

Also, I’m glad this isn’t a smiling photo because I feel like it’s easier to appreciate happy posts from a person whom one associates with a serious face, than serious posts from a person whom one associates with a happy face, and I want both types of posts to impact people when I post them. I could be overgeneralizing from my own feelings though. If you are reading this and want to chat me feedback (as way more than one of you has been doing), I’d welcome more data points on this issue.

That’s not what I really wanted to rant about in this post, though.


Why do people take photographs?

Continue reading

Lumbar Punctures

Cycles. Twice every four weeks, milling about the hospital for three hours to receive a single shot. Then once, spending those three hours strapped to a chair with an IV stand instead. And finally yesterday, the blurry seven-hour spinal skewer of an ordeal. I don’t talk about it on the Internet much… always been unsure if this is necessary, but it’s always easier to reveal a secret than to take it back, and I still don’t feel like it’s a part of me, just something that happened to happen. For one year, two months, and going strong.

There I was lying down for the required six hours after doctors messed around after my central nervous system a.k.a. spine. Mixed emotions; as taxing and nauseous as the experience is, it’s the last occurrence in the chemotherapy plan. One monster of a box ticked off, one step closer to the “normal” life of more than one year ago… or, to me right now, very unfamiliarly unrestricted. I can’t recall in full what it feels like to practice a chair freeze on the dancing room’s sweat-laced wooden floor… to gulp down a wasabi-smothered piece of sushi and then have to perform jumping jacks in response to the flavor… just to stroll through a park or a nature path like a normal guy, without having to worry about a mask.

Then the day after, now, I had an extra day’s stay for a CT scan. Even in the mere hour I ended up needing to wait for the installation of the killer-thickness needle — which I’m actually getting right now as I’m typing this sentence, and it is hideously, hideously, nasty to endure — I feel inklings of the oppressive dullness of hospital life again. To imagine, according to the doctor, I wasn’t supposed to be back in school until this point in the schedule!

I had hoped or maybe expected that I would have become desensitized to the pain, the interminable poking and prodding that I’ve been designated to suffer, by now; but still, every one of these experiences is just as difficult to get through as the last. But now the worst parts will be behind me forever, if my luck holds up. I don’t know if I dare hope for any more good fortune, though.

Whatever happens, life goes on. Before I know it (in four days, to be precise), I’ll be sucked into the next challenge, fighting for something different, something I understand why I’m battling for. Until then, there’s not much more to do than grit my teeth and resign myself to the perfectly typical homework load.

Last hospitalization ID band...?

‘Cause there has always been heartache and pain
And when it’s over you’ll breathe again
You’ll breathe again…