Sunday, January 30, 2011

a scarlet letter

"She could no longer borrow from the future to help her through the present grief. Tomorrow would bring its own trial with it; so would the next day, and so would the next: each its own trial, and yet the very same that was now so unutterably grievous to be borne. The days of the far-off future would toil onward, still with the same burden for her to take up, and bear along with her, but never to fling down; for the accumulating days and added years would pile up their misery upon the heap of shame. Throughout them all, giving up her individuality, she would become the general symbol at which the preacher and moralist might point, and in which they might vivify and embody their images of woman's frailty and sinful passion. Thus the young and pure would be taught to look at her, with the scarlet letter flaming on her breast--at her, the child of honourable parents--at her, who had once been innocent--as the figure, the body, the reality of sin. And over her grave, the infamy that she must carry thither would be her only monument."

-Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

I am going back and rereading some of these classics that I Cliffnoted/Sparknoted back in high school. Powerful stuff, and utterly beautiful writing. Still so relevant today. Times change, people don't.

I'm loving my Kindle.

light by night

"Moonlight, in a familiar room, falling so white upon the carpet, and showing all its figures so distinctly--making every object so minutely visible, yet so unlike a morning or noontide visibility--is a medium the most suitable for a romance-writer to get acquainted with his illusive guests. There is the little domestic scenery of the well-known apartment; the chairs, with each its separate individuality; the centre-table, sustaining a work-basket, a volume or two, and an extinguished lamp; the sofa; the book-case; the picture on the wall--all these detials, so completely seen, are so spiritualised by the unusual light, that they seem to lose their actual substance, and become things of intellect. Nothing is too small or too trifling to undergo this change, and acquire dignity thereby. A child's shoe; the doll, seated in her little wicker carriage; the hobby-horse--whatever, in a word, has been used or played with during the day is now invested with a quality of strangeness and remoteness, though still almost as vividly pressent as by daylight. Thus, therefore, the floor of our familiar room has become a neutral territory, somewhere between the real world and fairy-land, where the Actual and the Imaginary may meet, and each imbue itself with the nature of the other. Ghosts might enter here without affrighting us."

-Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

Saturday, January 29, 2011

the good old days

Recreated my favorite weekend breakfast from the dining halls back in the UCLA days. Just as delicious as I remember. My, that feels like a couple lifetimes ago.

1 cup white rice
1/2 onion, chopped
Some spinach, chopped
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 eggs, fried
Soy sauce

Cook onions and spinach in pan, add soup and a little water. Pour soup over rice and place eggs on top. Soy sauce to taste.

So good.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


A few weeks ago I got an email from the editor of INHERITANCE magazine. It is published by a local church and is aimed at the Asian-American Christian community. A friend who's wife is a contributor recommended my music for a compilation CD they were putting together showcasing Asian American artists. This was pretty flattering, as I came "highly recommended." I haven't considered these recordings as anything more than a personal project, but it seemed like a glowing opportunity to share.

I submitted "There is Time" and a short blurb about the inspiration behind it. I had to fill out an artist's release form and everything. How nice and official. A few weeks later, here we are and I just logged into Facebook to see that the CD has been released. Exciting! There are nine tracks on the CD, including one from my high school friend Kevin Yap. The cover was also designed by a college friend. What a small world. Anyway, it is up for download at INHERITANCE's website.

Introduction and Blurb
Download Link

I haven't listened to it yet. I'm kind of afraid that the other tracks will sound way better than mine. Still working on the musical self-confidence.

If you haven't heard the rest of the CD yet, please drop by my soundcloud.

Friday, January 21, 2011

time lapsed

I won a camcorder at my company's Christmas party. It's got some decent features but the picture quality is not so great. Shot some time lapse footage from my balcony a couple weeks ago. Had always wanted to play with it.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

custom dining table build

The Inspiration
My BMW 525i died recently and I pulled the engine apart to see what was wrong with it. It ended up not being worth it to fix, but I'm to sentimental to just junk everything. Plus I've been using a folding card table as a dining table. This is the top half of the engine, the head.

Set to work doing some CAD in Google Sketchup. Designed a support system for the engine out of 1" square tubing and sized a glass top. I use Pro/Engineer at work and found Sketchup hard to get used to. Seems pretty easy for non-engineers to pickup though. Plus it's free!

Found a local metal supplier with 1" square tubing. This is 16 gauge mild steel. They sell them in 20' lengths and I had them cut it to length. I needed 8 pieces at 26" lengths for the sides and 3 pieces at 36" lengths for the crossbars.
Cost: $50 including labor

Welding Practice
This is the hard part. Welded the raw materials together per design. I have a Lincoln MIG welder from previous projects that is much neglected. It was challenging to get the angles square without a flat work surface. This was done on my balcony. I'm also a pretty crappy welder. The supports warped a bit because I didn't think to manage the heat.

Drilled holes in the center section, using the existing head bolt holes for guides. I wanted to use the original head bolts to secure the head to the frame, but they are just barely too short. The weight of the head adds to the stability of the frame nicely.

Glass Top Added
The original glass supplier I found is all the way downtown, and only opens while I am at work. Luckily, I found that IKEA sells a glass table top nearly the same size. It's a bit narrower, but it was also $30 cheaper. They didn't have plain clear glass either, so I chose one that had "Love" etched in it in all different languages. I guess it kind of fits the theme.
Cost: $80

From Below
I'm considering painting the frame black to give it a bit more contrast. I'm also concerned with the steel rusting. Might be okay because its indoors with low humidity. I also need to source plastic caps for the open ends. They're kinda sharp.

From Above
Glass is difficult to photograph well.

Side Angle
I am fairly pleased with how this project turned out. Need to practice welding though.

Engine Head: Free
Steel Tubing: $50
Glass Top: $80

A few more photos here.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

from malibu, with love

Posting from Starbucks off Zuma Beach in Malibu.
Here are some happenings...

Double rainbow in West LA on the way home from work.

From Griffith Park Observatory, watched "Centered in the Universe" in the big dome.

Quick trip to Mountain High on New Year's Eve. Very crowded.