Richmond's Own (but unowned) Website

Today was the annual welcome reception event for new Cornell students in the LA area. It was great seeing all the new faces, and it was quite interesting for me to see the event from “the other side,” after being at school for a year.  I had a great time sharing my experience with the new students, as well as learning about t them and what they’re expecting this year. I wish I had more time to talk to people though! It was also a longer drive, out past the 405, but traffic was relatively light today.
But after spending a few hours with people who’ve just finished their senior year of high school, I thought I’d go back and revisit my year with the #worldslongestmarthon hashtag on Twitter I used during my senior year. I’ll give a couple reflections and additional details where I can – I realize now that a lot of what I wrote was not very specific and detailed, and isn’t very conducive to sparking a memory. But I can try!

  • #worldslongestmarathon - day 59. 8.5 hours of school + 8 hours of band. fun day!!! 5 SWEEPS IN BAND!!!!! love doing hw @ midnight.... 
  • So this was some time in November I believe – don’t remember the competition – might have been at the school that doesn’t have its own football field, and has to share with the district. (Forgot the name, and not sure if that’s even the right one). But there was an incredible feeling when we won. It might sound a little corny, but when they announced our name, I could envision a movie moment, where the music would crescendo and swell at that moment to the grand heroic theme! Take note Hollywood – someone needs to pitch a real marching band movie (not just drumline!)

  • #worldslongestmarathon the big day 60. not really big. just really tired from band last night. hope todays spanish test was ok.
  • Evidently it was a Tuesday night competition the night before, thus a late night doing homework.

  • #worldslongestmarathon day 61 - sleepy, physics test, iba meeting, and more stuff. fun fun fun! too many clubs, hahaha
  • Not sure what other clubs were meeting – besides IBA, I was involved in NHS and Math Club heavily, but our meetings were on other days usually. Maybe it was a Science Olympiad meeting. Not sure there.

  • #worldslongestmarathon 62 - interesting day...not much to speak of. did some national honor society stuff - thanksgiving soon!!
  • There’s NHS. Not much to speak of apparently.

  • #worldslongestmarathon 63 - long band practice, christmas music, and the first episode of The Wong Show!!!!
  • I love playing Christmas music in band! Always makes me happy. I was super excited when we received our Christmas music. I think Kathryna or somebody might have laughed at me! But it’s all good fun. Not sure about The Wong Show – besides being an interesting pun, that might have been our “hot seat” thing in English, where I was the host of a talk show like thing, and other students portrayed characters from different books/stories we read, and have to answer questions in character.

  • #worldslongestmarathon day 64 - college interview! spanish test and presentation! learned about radios!
  • Not sure what college that was – might have been Brown, but I’m not certain. We learned about radios in IB Physics, we spent a good amount of time learning about radios, and how they worked (especially AM radios, and the mathematics behind the wave functions).

  • #worldslongestmarathon 65 sleeeeeeeeeepy!!! short day! band practice!!
  • Just what it says – but looks like it was a Wednesday extra practice in the run up to champs (whereas practices were generally Monday only, we had extras in the weeks before champs).

  • #worldslongestmarathon day 66 - really empty, since most people went to see the play. but i read a chapter of hw stuff!!! 4 hours...
  • There was a trip by the English classes to see a play – I think it was Shakespeare. I’m not sure why I didn’t go, but there were a few of us who stayed, and mostly had study hall periods, since a lot of my classes had the same students from IB.

  • #worldslongestmarathon day 67 - HARD spanish culture test...surprise english essay...getting ready for extended essay tomorrow!
  • Surprise! Not sure what the English essay was. But I remember Spanish culture tests! Each week in AP Spanish, we’d study the culture of a Spanish speaking country, and every so often we’d be tested on them (5 or 6 at a time?) – and I remember that they were rather difficult!

  • #worldslongestmarathon day 68 - interesting day...i liked the physics movie about radio. and sung last year's field show at lunch. Yup
  • We watched a video in physics about the history of radio – with Tesla, Edison, and some of the early businesses and corporations. Besides talking about the science and physics of radio, I believe it also talked about the politics of radio, with the patents and money and whatnot, which I found quite interesting as well. As for last year’s field show, that would have been Heartbeat – - not sure who was singing though. Me…Kevin was probably there, maybe Trevor and Victor…some others too maybe. Or if this was a Monday and we had a band club meeting, that’s possible too.

  • #worldslongestmarathon day 69. fun fun, last morning band practice ever on the field! can't wait to go to san diego!
  • Last morning band practice. Getting to school before 7am for band was tiring, but besides getting satisfaction from our performance and practices (most of the time), sometimes we were treated to beautiful sunrises.  And champs were in San Diego that year! It was great to see some alumni from UCSD come seeus when we went down there for band champs!
So that brings us up to about 1 week before winter break in 2009, when I get more time, I’ll continue with those reflections and notes.

PS – Happy Birthday Harry Potter!

  We spent most of the day with at my uncle’s house (I had to drive on the freeway – yay?) with my cousins, and my other aunt came, so more cousins. It was a lot of fun – some time in the pool which was fun. I have one cousin who’s about to go into 2nd grade, and he has a great imagination! And he was a lot of fun, we all had quite a water fight in the pool, but he made up all of these little games right away with dive sticks, and shooting zombies and what not. Which I thought was great. I mean I still have a pretty cool imagination (running around like a spy perhaps? Singing this music? ), but what young kids think of never ceases to amaze me. Seems like a terrible thing to lose – not that we lose it, but soon the “real world” hits us, and what becomes important to us changes. Tis life. But I feel like a lot of times we look at kids and marvel at their imagination thinking “I used to be like that.” Is there something that says we can no longer be like that, that we cannot see the world with new wide opened eyes, to see things in new ways, to not be bound by social norms and expectations, to create purely from our mind? Go forth and imaginate!

Today was pretty lax, but doing a lot of things! A lot of following the debt ceiling debate – interesting to watch the @BarackObama twitter feed post the Republican Members of Congress’s twitter accounts as the day went on. Also spent some time working on the website, though I need to do a lot on the input fields still. Also started practicing my clarinet! Did some work on scales. Think I found a good fast/technical piece, though that’s going to require a bit of time put in during the next 3 weeks – but I signed up for an audition slot for CU Winds, so that should motivate me! Also swam some laps, and had corned beef for dinner!

Though I spent a lot of time tonight putting subtitles on our Roehampton Fulbright Summer Institute – it’s only taken me 2 weeks to do it. No idea how the other groups did their subtitles in 2 days! So hopefully people on this side of the pond will have an easier time understanding the accents!
On another note, now that I’m doing these every day, I think I’d like to take the time and not always write a “what I did today” but something else – maybe reflective, current events, creative, or something. Perhaps. Stories in a serialized format? Making up fake inspirational quotes? Who knows, the possibilities are endless, as long as you have a pen and paper. Or a digital word processor.
Quick rundown of today – Had a meeting for a potential job this coming school year, worked on some secret website programming, getting pretty immersed in the news bubble with the ongoing debt ceiling debates, catching up on some Conan, Jimmy Fallon, Good Eats, and Mythbusters, shopping at 99 Ranch with my dad, and some swimming. Busy day!
Well, Microsoft Paint can be surprisingly versatile sometimes!
Anyways, as I’ve gotten back into the LA Public Transportation system, I can’t help but compare it to the London Public Transport (note the difference in words!), and their public system, transport for London. I suppose some of these feelings of frustration and whatnot are recognizable as symptoms of reverse culture shock. Writing usually helps me.  So here we go!
  • Request stops – I quite enjoyed flagging busses in London. First of all, it’s fun when you’re waiting a while for a bus to flag it down – there’s something satisfying about that! Here in LA, however, while you don’t need to flag a bus (which is good if you’re prone to forgetting to flag, or say, reading a paper when a bus comes by), it means whenever people are waiting at the bus stop, the bus stops, even if none of the people need that particular bus. Which means wasted time when buses stop and don’t pick up/drop off any passengers. And can be very frustrating when you need to make a train connection!
  • Strange people – I thought on London transport, there were some very interesting characters – like the girl swearing at her boyfriend(?) on the train from Waterloo one night. There were others as well. The one thing in LA was the man with a large boombox radio (like in the 80s) – there are strange people on the LA buses, some on the subways, not as much on the Metrolink, but they are rarely entertaining, unlike some of the people in London.
  • Frequency – transport in LA is NOT frequent. Usually anyways. Buses may be the same – depends on the time of day; the busiest parts of the day in London had 8-12 minutes between buses on the routes we took, which is about the same for here. However, subways here I usually have to wait up to 10 minutes – it was so convenient when tubes ran every 3 minutes or less – so convenient! There were only a couple times in London where we had to wait more than 3 minutes – there’s a lot of downtime here between trains. That makes it hard to when I try to make a connection – when 10 minutes can make a huge difference in my connection. And then there’s the Metrolink line that goes by my house. I loved that Southwest Trains at Barnes came every 10 minutes or less during rush hour, and even then, at least every 20-30 minutes (and less really late at night). But here, there are like 4 trains that go into the city in the morning at half hour intervals, and 4 trains that come back in the afternoon/evening at half hour intervals. First, that makes it very frustrating when you miss one by a couple minutes and need to wait the extra half hour. Also, it’s very inflexible; especially in determining what times I need to leave my internship from. I’ve done my share of running to trains here (as in London – amazing race style!).
  • Mind the Gap – While I miss the message on London tubes, I realized you don’t hear it here because there’s no need – there is no gap! (See, it’s not all bashing on the LA Public Transit system!) At subway stations in the LA Metro, the platforms are all even with trains, and the stations all have elevators. In fact, I saw a man in a wheelchair get onto the subway this Monday, and it seemed quite easy for him. So for the physically disabled, the LA Metro system seems quite accessible – more so than in London. The tube there only had certain stations which were handicap accessible, and even at those stations, they needed to go to certain parts of the platform which were raised to train level.
  • The System Layout – This probably has to do more with what I do, but most of the area where I am travelling isn’t covered by subway or train. While buses are there, subways and trains are much quicker and would cut down on the hour bus ride I take. The trains and subway are laid out in a somewhat backwards “C” shape, with nothing in the middle of the C – which is exactly where I need to travel! Very frustrating. Unlike the London trains, we never even took a bus in central (except once to Parliament I guess), because the tube went everywhere! Anywhere we needed to go was a 10-15 minute walk from a tube station, it was very convenient. I suppose part of it is that the LA system is newer (and is more accessible), but is much smaller as well.
  • Wheelchairs – It must be quite hard for anyone in a wheelchair to get on a bus. First, the placement of the wheelchairs are different, here they come in the front door, while on London buses, they come in the back door (leading to a wider back door on buses in London, and a narrower back door in LA – which took me by surprise on the first day back, I never noticed that). Though I have heard stories about people in London not moving their buggies (strollers) or other things out of the way for wheelchair people. However, in LA on Monday, there was one man who got on with a wheelchair. The bus driver stopped, pressed a button for the elevator thing in the front, and other passengers vacated their seats, and helped put the seats in the upright position to make it easier for the man in the wheelchair – I was surprised by how readily everyone helped to accommodate the man in the wheelchair. It would have been interesting to see what would have happened in the same situation in London.
  • Riding with others – I realized after a while here how much I miss riding public transport with my Fulbright Summer Participant friends in London – we had some great times on public transport. It’s quite different when you travel alone, with an iPod and book for company.
  • Maps - This probably made me the most frustrated. It should NOT take 1-2 hours to plan a trip for 5 miles in LA. But it did. Trying to look at buses, and not knowing how often they run, and the bus system has so many choices and possible routes for transfers, so there’s a lot of research on which is the best route, with the most likely connections, etc. Unlike London with the tube, where we could usually be safe in knowing there’d be one in a few minutes, and just see the tube system map and figure out a route, instead of a much more complicated bus map. It saves so much time in planning – it’s much easier to just say “Charing Cross is the closest tube stop” and follow the lines to get there, instead of saying “there’s a bus stop at Olympic and East Century Park,” there are a million ways you can get there, but the most direct one will take the longest because of the transfer, or you could use the LA and Santa Monica bus systems, or you could use the LA system only but walk between this stop and that stop and transfer, etc….Plus, the map at practically every London bus stop of the immediate area, and all the buses in that area was VERY HELPFUL, especially for being a visitor, and not knowing where the routes went – the maps were very helpful. Here, I only know a few lines, and the other ones, I’m completely lost. Which makes it very hard when I need to find an alternate route, getting on a bus not sure where it goes. I have no idea how tourists take public transit here. Oh, they probably don’t. (Hey LA, invest in making it easier to navigate the bus system when you’re at a bus stop, and maybe you’ll get more tourists to use it – and get larger revenues! Or maybe they’ve thought of that already.)
  • Oyster Cards – We have cards too. But it was nice that all public transport (including outlaying areas, like Putney) used Oysters, so we could use them for all transit. Unlike here, where Metrolink and LA Metro are different systems. While I can use Metrolink tickets as Metro passes, it doesn’t work on everything, unlike the Oyster Card.
  • Marquees – The marquees at some bus stops in London were very helpful in showing how long until the next bus. VERY helpful! And it was nice to have marquees in the tube and trains showing the upcoming stops and other information. Though to be fair, it’s much easier to understand the conductors on the LA subway and Metrolink trains, unlike the garbled Peanuts’ teacher talk that happens in London.
  • Newspapers – I miss the free newspapers in London – Metro and the Evening Standard. Full newspapers, mind you, not just little 8 page pamphlets, but like 40-60 pages of information. Granted, they weren’t very great papers (fish n chip papers!), but it was something to read, and something up to date to listen to. Day old podcasts covering the news and iPod songs don’t always satisfy me – I wish we had a morning and afternoon free paper here to read!
And a bit off topic, but 2 things I strangely miss. First, the orange squash/mystery juice from the canteen – not the best stuff, but I feel like on hot summer days, it might be refreshing. Maybe. And our little Vodaphone service Nokia phones – with T9 texting! Ah, that was quite nostalgic, bringing back memories of…4 years ago. But I kind of enjoyed using the old T9 keyboard – didn’t spend as much time texting (well a lot of time typing – but not long conversations) like now. And while I think texting is great, it was nice to not be constantly texting there, and being to enjoy where I was and what I was doing.

Another quick blog entry. I was going to type up my list of differences in public transportation between LA and London, but alas, it’s late again tonight, so that’ll have to wait until tomorrow.

Another 5:30 morning – though it was nice to be able to watch Chuck Todd at 6am. Got into the office a bit before 9 – I was lucky and caught the 7:37 Red Line! Today was mostly doing research for a viral marketing campaign, based off some of the information I got yesterday. It’s pretty cool being able to contribute to this project. Had some good talks with Aaron about movies today – Back to the Future!  So after a productive day, headed home. Missed the 5:30 train by a few minutes, so I ended up on the 6:05 train. I waited in the waiting area of Union Station for a while, and there was an Asian couple in a (not really professional) photoshoot, with some Asian photographers. And there was the point the photographer made them kiss while holding hands in the seats, cute, but they looked really awkward!

Fell asleep on the train after listening to my NPR podcasts – woke up thinking I missed my stop, but I was just in time, waking up about 5 minutes before my spot. Back to news about the debt limit and everything else in the Washington debate right now. And a pseudo relaxing night as well. More stuff to do tomorrow!

Not much time tonight either, so I suppose I’ll wait until tomorrow for my LA/London transport comparison – so wait for that, it’s coming!

So for today, regular day of waking up at 5:30, leaving at 6:30 for the 7am train, getting to West Hollywood around 9am. Today was continuing yesterday’s sites/blogs/brands for marketing a mobile app. It’s interesting to see all the research and work that goes into these promotions. Also saw today’s Abe’s Market live videocast (they sell natural goods in their online store, mostly foods), and the end of today’s show marked the return of the Loveologist Wendy Strgar – she’s quite an entertaining character about sexual health and her natural products – here’s a link to her first appearance (content warning – not really PG, things get kinda crazy (but entertaining too) in her talk) -   . My research got sent to some other people who found it useful, I think it’s really cool to see that what I’m doing is actually being seen (fingers crossed that something gets used! But even if not, maybe it’ll spark an idea in someone else).

Had to leave early for a Cornell in Hollywood Event (by taxi for 10 minutes instead of 2 hours by bus – more on my frustrations another time) with some recruiters at Fox (and had a run in with my cousin on the way, which was a nice surprise!), who had very good advice about finding work in the entertainment industry, especially regarding resumes and interviews – very glad we had that arranged for us! And on top of that, we got to sit in some nice chairs at a nice table in a nice view. I feel like the Fox Plaza building is Fox’s LA version of NBC’s 30 Rock (the building, not the show).
Fox Plaza!
Inside the Metro Rapid Bus - it had those cool accordion connectors (like when Adam and I went to Camden Arts Centre!)
Took a Metro Rapid bus back (like an express bus), and missed the last train to Industry by 3 minutes. I even did the run from the bus down the escalator through the plaza and into the train tunnels – I think I had a guy yell/laugh at me as I was running – but to no avail, I got to an empty platform. I ended up buying a sandwich at the station (past 6:30 by then) – a bit like when we bought dinner at the station at Edinburgh! But it was more fun with 12 other people. I think it had a lot of sodium though, I’m pretty thirsty now. Ended up taking a 7:10 train to Covina instead, and had to wait for a ride back home – was past 8 by the time I got home – about a 15 hour day! Wow. Here’s to tomorrow…
Work/Intern: Back to the long days of interning. The stuff I do is pretty interesting though – today I was looking for some web sites and tie ins that might be possibilities for a mobile app that is being developed.

Commute: Long as always. Napped on the Metrolink train to Union Station. Strange characters on the bus. Miss London transport – more on that soon (and some comparisons to come at a later date)

Debt Ceiling: Missed a lot today. Saw the markets fall a lot when they opened this morning, was home as Speaker Boehner was responding to President Obama. And saw that wonderful “Countdown to Default” countdown clock in the bottom corner of CNN.

And now why LA Public Transport (transportation for Americans) is so bad – there are trains in like a backwards C shape. There’s a network downtown, in the San Fernando Valley (Northwestish) and in Orange County (Southwestish), but from Hollywood to the coast, there’s NOTHING. Except buses. But figuring out those isn’t that easy. Basically it boils down to planning a trip that’s about 5-6 miles by bus SHOULD NOT TAKE AN HOUR to figure out. </rant> I just wish it was like in London, where practically every bus stop had a map of the bus lines in the near vicinity (so I would be able to go my 5 or 6 miles by looking at a bus stop and not spending an hour reading through online timetables because the metro auto planner wasn’t working), and schedules posted for each on posts at the bus stops. It was very easier as an foreigner/outsider coming to London to make sense of their transport system – I live in the LA area, and I can’t even make sense of it. Very different. But at least I have my plan for my 16 hour long day tomorrow. Commuting from inland is just great. Though I have a lot of respect for those who do this on a regular basis, every week of the year.  

Today was also a pretty normal day. I spent a good chunk playing Locomotion – an early 2000s game, which is like SimCity meets Roller Coaster Tycoon (the old version) – basically you’re building a transportation company (utilizing lots of trains!), in an old Roller Coaster Tycoon type interface. It’s a lot of fun, and I probably spend too much time on it! Maybe it’s a bit nerdy, but I love trying to figure out different signal and station configurations to try to make my railroad system the most efficient. I remember when we were in London, each time we took a train and I saw something cool, I went to try to incorporate it into my game!

Besides the game, I put in some more time working on that website – I think I got some good things, viewing individual posts, adding some links to the posts, and figuring out default settings for when you browse different posts. I suppose it’s trying to build like Twitter (did that already! Cool!) with Amazon search functionalities, with some stuff from other sites. A lot of work. Thanks to the Mythbusters for accompanying me while I was working.

I also had the chance to make more homemade popcorn today! I love the stuff – just some salt, oil, and popcorn kernels, none of that processed microwave stuff. Even though some people find the flavor bland (no buttery stuff – and I didn’t use a “u” in flavor!), I find it delicious! And snack on it quite a lot – one pot doesn’t last me very long. At least there’s a lot of fiber in it! But it is much healthier than the microwave popcorn, so I don’t feel too bad about it. Better than potato crisps (chips).

Some exciting news down from San Diego Comic Con this weekend!
I’m just quite sad that there’s nothing Stargate related this year, as the end of the latest series, Stargate Universe, was effectively the end of the franchise (for now at least, but if it ever comes back, it’ll probably be a reboot, which just wouldn’t be the same).

My aunt and uncle came over today – traded produce with them – got some fresh tomatoes, and compared them to ours, got to see their large yellow tomatoes (we only have tiny ones), and saw their bell peppers and spicy peppers! We had lamb for dinner with pasta with a fresh homemade tomato sauce, which was wonderful! Had a pretty deep conversation with my dad about the stars and space after dinner too. 

So tonight is an early night to sleep – need to wake up at 5:30am tomorrow morning, back to my internship! Getting ready to be excited for the internship work, and ready to get mad at LA local transit for its infrequent nature (unlike what we’ve experienced in London!) – until tomorrow!

Today felt like a very productive day! Today we got up early and made a quick family trip back down to Dana Point to pick up the car, and I drove back on the freeway. Though after hitting high freeway speeds, it feels like driving on regular streets is very slow! 40mph used to seem pretty fast, but not so much now…

At home, I put in a few more hours on the website I’m working on – I got the system working to the point where people can post certain information – I still need to work on searching that information and subscribing to that information. Sorry I can’t be more upfront on the details!

I started practice clarinet too today, which I haven’t played for quite a while now. Just playing a few long tones and some scales, but it was good to get the air back through the instrument and my fingers moving again! My mom went to some lunch function, but brought home take out dim sum, which was good. Then in the afternoon, I went out on my own mini shopping trip. Looked at some grills at Home Depot. Then I went to Sam Ash to look for some music for my clarinet music audition for CU Winds in about a month. I almost opened the door the wrong way though – in the UK a lot of doors opened inward, so you’d push to enter (seems like a safety hazard?) – Kelsey and Nicole got a good laugh of me finding this out the hard way at the hostel in Scotland. But most doors in the US open outward (pull to enter, push to exit). Anyways, I spent a lot of time at Sam Ash looking for music – trying to find pieces not too hard and not too easy, or ones that look hard but end up being the same 16th note pattern repeated 12 times. So I picked a couple out after at least half an hour – time to try them out now! Made a stop in Best Buy to price some things, then over to Target to get some clothes, toiletries, and cleaning supplies. Good car trip overall.

And once at home, I had time for a quick dip in the pool – time to swim some laps and play with my lego “oil rig.” All in all, a productive day – I did quite a lot (not mentioning some work related emails I sent and received), and a relaxing evening watching Huell Howser visit the corner of California in Lake Tahoe (the convex corner), where he humorously leaned over the boat to put a little floating California flag in the water, and watching a Discover Channel documentary on the killing of Osama Bin Laden (gee, isn’t it a bit soon for that? Modern television…) Hope the rest of my summer is this productive!

I’m not sure how long I’m going to keep my dates European (I changed one of my clocks to 24 hour time too, instead of 12 hour – a lot of things were on 12 hour time in England, but bus schedules and cinema times were on 24 hour time), but I’ll do it for a while, or at least until I get tired of it.

Not a whole lot to report today. Drove to Dana Point with my mom for some car stuff – nice to see the Pacific Ocean, something I don’t see as much as I probably should. It’s like all the people we met in London who said we’ve seen more of it than they have – I need to get out and see more of the LA area! The freeways here are much bigger though – 5+ lanes per direction, when we were in London, even though we were on freeways/highways/carriageways twice, the most I ever saw was 3 lanes per direction – just a different size and scale. Not to mention the size of the cars. So today was my first time driving long distance in a month – getting used to big cars, big streets, and driving on the right side (not that we drove while we were there). It was alright – about as normal as my freeway driving pre-London anyways. 

Besides that, it’s interesting being back within my “news bubble” – constant source of Twitter feeds via BBC News and CNN, along with cable news networks all day – follow the tragic bombings and killings in Norway, up tp the minute with the latest play by play on the debt ceiling – I’m not sure whether it’s a good or bad thing to be this connected to everything – perhaps that’s something to think about for another blog entry.

I started back on some web programming, which I haven’t really done in over a month. I’m working on a new website, so it was a bit strange to look at it after not seeing it for a while, but I’m starting to get back into the swing of things there.



Priscilla – Carded a few times – not sure if it was our age or if some places didn’t care as much…you can look pretty young too! I suppose being called “the Americans” is slightly easier when there’s not the same language barrier, and a lot of our actions and appearance (not to mention our accents) probably labeled us as Americans!

Brendan – Yes, strange to be home – quite weird to not be around all of you, and suddenly a much slower pace of life – no more wake up calls 8am by Adam and nonstop until 1am. It’s nice to get sleep! But it’s still a bit offsetting not to be busy 24 hours a day. And I wish I had rain and cooler temperatures now – it’s only been in the 80s/90s, and I’m already getting tired of the heat!