Archive for September, 2009|Monthly archive page

Do You Remember the Time?

Paris is for lovers

Paris is for lovers

Random Observation/Comment #211: Jake, James, and I would make the hottest person imaginable if only our powers were combined.  Separately, we do a very good job attacking and defending our different fronts.  I usually get the intellectuals and Asian girls.  James goes for the tall blonde girls that like eccentric guys with white t-shirts and tattoos.  And Jake gets the cute girls that just so happen to enjoy his creepy look and fun sense of humor.  I deem this a quality observation.

There were plenty of memories from this trip, but I rather not explain all of them in detail on this blog. So instead, I’ll just write some vague moments that sound very interesting, but have a great story that goes with them.  I could have probably posted these as separate status updates.  Half of these will be for Natasha because making someone smile is fun.

Remember the time when…

  1. London free tours meeting new friends and having great Indian food at Brick Lane
  2. Norwegian chemistry teachers and Guinness fantastic-ness
  3. Westminster abbey service and Borough market kangaroo burger
  4. Random ping pong discovery
  5. First night drinking in public in front of police officers and helping the drunk Canadians
  6. Hooters with Kiwis at midnight in Interlaken
  7. Teaching beer pong with Keegan
  8. Jager craziness on the Swiss alps while sledding
  9. Ollie snow face plant
  10. Snowflakes the size of quarters in winter wonderland
  11. Who needs brakes? Just find a soft patch of snow and pray.
  12. Slightly zealous and hypocritical south African preaching Angels and Demons conspiracy theories
  13. Camping like champions; taking 45 minutes to get a fire going
  14. Bike ride through stinky town
  15. Unforgettable sights at Schilthorn 360 resturant
  16. Reeperbahn St Patty’s Day
  17. Sweedish girls at White Trash Fast Food in Berlin – what a mess
  18. Lenka’s artistic pictures with knives by candle light
  19. Bus ride to Berlin with lively Spanish girls and meeting new friends that grew throughout the trip
  20. Spin the bottle in the hostel learning many more interesting details about Hungarian girls (*cough* someone wants to have sex while skydiving)
  21. Clemens becomes the designated massage person and called a sneaker
  22. Fernando highly attracted to the Berlin tour guide as the history and loads of pictures continue
  23. Leena figures out my secret recipe – just add potatoes, pasta, cheese, and soup.
  24. Clemens Lasagna party
  25. Gulasch party
  26. Fish market… don’t actually remember the details (much like most fish market experiences)
  27. Cutting my own hair and then Anna’s hair – subsequent screaming expected
  28. Anna’s birthday celebration – beginning of the apartment’s legend of being the party place
  29. Taking pictures of the moon using her head as a stabilizer
  30. Picnics at Alster Lake – drinking at noon.  Lucian shows off his rapping skills.
  31. Ferry ride with Hungarians with more massages and free beers. Gummy bears are still delicious.
  32. Dresden chatting with Natasha. Zwinger second floor with hopes, surprises, and disappointments
  33. Frantically looking for a half-pipe to find a cheap hostel to spend the night at 10PM
  34. Missing the train and going to Magdeburg. Alex has wine.
  35. Amsterdam leads to over eating and extreme laziness
  36. Van Gogh museum on 420
  37. Discover Greg’s love of drinking jager and dancing on tables
  38. House party with a crazy hat theme. Don’t hold the handles when walking up those huge spiral staircases
  39. Thomas’s bday dinner with amazing food by candle light. Thomas deemed master chef.
  40. Mom’s and Auntee’s cooking in Hamburg
  41. Mom cutting Greg’s hair
  42. Munich with Mom and aunties. Beer tour with small Chinese ladies with bad tolerance. Cutout heart from bride’s jeans.
  43. Neuschwanstein castle hiking and pictures with tour.
  44. Schloss Nymphmberg walking for hours and getting lost. Helped by an old man wearing inappropriately tight jogging pants.
  45. Watching twilight with Natasha.  Quickly followed by the complaints about how bad of a movie that was.
  46. How I Met Your Mother marathons while sickly. Thanks for taking care of me.
  47. Absinthe smells like detergent and probably tastes worse.
  48. Clemens learns Natasha’s weakness to Shrimp dinners
  49. Giving her first rose before Harburg
  50. Cooking the soup that lasted 3 days of meals
  51. Prague 5 story night club with Argentina people
  52. Getting lost in the side streets of Prague. Disappointed when seeing the Astronomical clock.
  53. Noami’s last party near hauptbahnhof. Sneaking jager shots with Greg.
  54. Volleyball with Viktoria in Alohmer
  55. Dusseldorf ramen and skipping stones in a very crappy beach
  56. Watching the jazz concerts while finishing wine and talking about Queen
  57. Tequila party with fuzzy memories
  58. Colbert Report in Iraq
  59. Schwerin with Russians and seeing castles
  60. Lenka’s birthday stopped by cops while dancing on tables
  61. E3 coverage kills my social life
  62. Fussen climbing to the top of everything – totally scared of heights and started raining
  63. BMW museum – obsessed and taking pictures with shaking hands
  64. Seeing Alex again in Hamburg
  65. Missing the flight to Italy, but going to Prague instead
  66. Making strawberry milkshakes
  67. Arthur my favorite owl! Ali the showoff falcon.
  68. Bar-TH-lona! Meeting interesting people and drinking real absinthe (again)
  69. vodka pineapple+watermelon+blender = good times
  70. Porsche museum and Mercedes Benz museum in Stuttgart
  71. Brussels to meet Irish girls for weird heavy drinking
  72. Brussels to meet Nick, AC, and Christians for good times. 10 EUR mussels around the table.
  73. Bruge napping and rolling down the hill
  74. Delirium craziness – overall drinking 30 different beers in 3 days
  75. Hamburg German Open – first tennis show
  76. Schliersee hiking and camping up several mountains. Hearing cows after an hour.
  77. Best milk I’ve ever had.
  78. Showering with the pot and freezing with the sleeping bag
  79. Trying to reach the top of different mountains but epic fail each time. Absolutely gorgeous.
  80. Sleeping in a bed after cold camping experience
  81. Remembering Remembering MJ
  82. Moving out of apartment and being a hubby at Natasha’s
  83. San Sebastian with Jebus and surfing. Playing darts with a group of Aussies.
  84. Driving in Spain to Bilbao. Guggenheim incredibleness.
  85. Sun sets and beaches with Kain and Shibby.
  86. Driving to Barcelona and chilling with more Aussies. Eating high quality ham and cheese with amazing wine.
  87. Gaudi tours and crazy picture obsessions
  88. Meeting Rhona for a chat, but never hanging outside of the that corner spot
  89. Boat ride with English girls in the park before Museo del Prado.  I spy with my little eye in Spanish.
  90. Madrid museums with Laura
  91. Flamenco dancing in an underground  cave
  92. Randomly meeting Kristin for pub crawl which was followed by random jam sessions in the middle of the street until 6AM – almost getting hit by a pot thrown out the window
  93. Meet with Christian in Denia and getting used to the life style
  94. Chill by club near jorge’s place after a crazy drive. Great people and perfect sunrise moment.
  95. Waking up late, late lunches, long siestas, rock beaches, and more partying
  96. Sneaking into Hacienda like James Bond
  97. Alcohol garage by the buddah place
  98. Amazing Spanish food at Alfonso’s bbq and with Christian’s family
  99. Chilling in Valencia to see the F1 tracks
  100. Siestas in Paris near the Louvre
  101. Being silly on the Eiffel tower.  Singing Wonderwall and not giving a crap about anyone else.
  102. Louvre professional photography. Unfortunately, missed Natasha at entrance.
  103. Natasha’s bday and eating sushi.  Sharing champagne in Haffencity.
  104. Statdpark with cool drummers
  105. Amsterdam basement bathroom looking for signal
  106. Hanging out with Anca in London and sharing random stories

I actually kept a diary about my everyday activities, so I can basically relive the memories by the small notes I jotted down.  I’ve actually adopted this style with my everyday life since I came back. The Europe adventure may have ended, but my life adventure is just beginning.

~See Lemons Remember Europe

Cooper Grad Reviewing the New Academic Building

Cooper's foundation building from the new building

Cooper's foundation building from the new building

The NAB presents itself as a multitude of different concepts for students, faculty, alumni, and New Yorkers. To some, it is a beautiful architectural achievement which is comparable to the innovation of the Cooper Union Foundation building across the street. To others, the building brings some frustration with functionality and accommodating to new environments. However, with either perspective, the building will eventually become the homes of the students and an icon in Manhattan. It will grow and finally mix the art, architecture, and engineering schools – if not to study in the same space and interchange ideas, then to socialize and enjoy the city location and eccentric personalities.  We’ll all have criticisms, but it really is a change of scenery that didn’t epic fail as many early skeptics thought it would. Everyone from within started with a bad taste in their mouth for the lack of feedback and transparency in the process. For me, being proved wrong in my pessimism makes me slightly optimistic. The dust will settle and the schedules will be more organized with time.

As a recent Cooper graduate walking around the New Academic Building, I felt this strange feeling of being extremely old. It wasn’t that the building looks like an Apple store with less curved edges, but rather the fact that I no longer felt connected to Cooper the same way I was just a few months ago. The Wollman Lounge in the old engineering building really helped everyone mingle and relax, but now it’s just a little disconnected. Walking through the glowing building with the floating staircases and very stylish designs along the walls makes it feel like a futuristic museum that was built to help guide the tourists through the whole building without missing any exhibitions. Although I would love to see this building as a museum, it’s a school and I think the idea of functionality wasn’t the main focus of the design. It was quite a challenging project for any architect with high expectations, high demands, and annoying air space restrictions, so I do applaud Thom Mayne for a wonderful achievement. It’s been a headache for everyone involved to complete on schedule, but I’m sure the small complaints will subside and our familiarity will welcome the new additions.

In the architect’s defense, many people loathe big changes so there will always be nit-picky jabs of criticism. It’s probably because we just get used to our own little hacky fixes – it makes everything more personal when you know all the back doors, little secrets, and interesting stories behind the history of the building.  Hopefully this building grows similarly with Cooper history and will tell its own story in the future.  To all the best.

~ See Lemons Content

Cooper Union Alumni Message

Old School

Old School

The easy path would have been to take the Credit Suisse well-paying IT job in Manhattan, and start my life as a young professional with a bright future in finance. I saw all of my EE graduates tempted by these delicious dangling treats, and many of them gladly following the flow and natural subsequent phases. It was a difficult decision choosing between money and exploration, but it was a bold move that I’m very glad to say was the right decision. Starting with a 3-month study abroad program in Osaka University, I caught the travel bug and began looking for the less conventional methods of enjoying life after obtaining a Cooper education. While I was still in Japan, I connected with the engineering department in Hamburg University in Germany for another research opportunity. With the free semester in-between, I finished and defended my master’s thesis at Cooper. I was able to do this in a speedy-manner because I finished undergraduate with 25 credits more than required.  These credits were mostly graduate level courses, so I only needed to finish a thesis to obtain a Master’s degree.

From February 2009 to the beginning of September 2009, I worked on an artificial intelligence algorithm applied to robotics at Hamburg University. With my free time, I conducted my personal comparisons and social experiments between German, Japanese, and American work ethics.  However, the majority of my observations involved weekend, solo backpacking travels at hostels in major cities around Europe.  It may have seemed like a continuous journey of posting thousands of pictures, videos, and status updates (which to the untrained eye looks like I was only partying), but I was actually learning some of the essential socializing techniques that were completely stunted by the Cooper professors’ endless problem sets and impossible exams. I tried my best to communicate with strangers in order to practice being more friendly and learning from these eccentric individuals’ experiences to narrow down my personal preferences for career choices.

I was told recently that my personality was unusually extrovert for an engineer. Not that all engineers are socially inept, but to be honest, we don’t get much practice talking to living things. I remember nights screaming at my computer programs for not working properly. After observing different environments and following the life cycles of more projects, I slowly matured into (what I consider) the thinking of a true-engineer.  I discovered the importance of community and teamwork as projects grew more complicated and deadlines piled on top of each other.  My initial notions of competition and grades were immature and silly.  In a crazy backwards way, I discovered the importance of liberal arts.  It took 6 months after 4.5 years of neglecting liberal arts to find how unbelievably important it is to realize the complexity of people and the numerous different options a person has to feel successful.

A little more than a year has passed since I’ve graduated, but with the majority of the time abroad and finally seeing things from another perspective, I know I’ve made the right decision to think outside the box by literally leaving the box to look back in.  My adventures are far from over – I am returning to Osaka University for 6 months in January 2010 to work on a different application of artificial intelligence to robotics.  Who said “settling down” and “growing up” were strictly inclusive?

~See Lemons Continue as Always

Doing Things I Missed in NYC

representing back in nyc

representing back in nyc

Random Observation/Comment #210: I’ve taken a lot of pictures of myself in the same position with the same smile, but with different backgrounds from places all around the Europe and Japan. I even used the SL flash for all of them so it makes me look brighter, and gives the slight possibility that I could have been photo-shopped into this background.  Bridget claimed that I was spending my time in my basement photo-shopping myself into these backgrounds for 6 months without ever needing to leave New York.  I think that would be an interesting social project (or anti-social project).  Because everyone thinks this is true, I’m going to use the aviary tools to cutout one of the good pictures and put them on some of the backgrounds in my edited photos to see if you can tell the difference.  I’ll do this when as another side project from making SkyNet and taking over the world with my robots.  Apparently, this is what James has told everyone I am doing.

Q: What happened to your constant update of notes?

A: This is what happens when I’m home in NYC with friends I haven’t seen in 6 months. Chaos. Wordlife.

New York continues to welcome me with open arms and an endless amount of laughter.  Coming back from such a long vacation made me realize how amazing this place is and how many incredibly good times I have here.  Yes, I definitely miss many aspects of Europe, which will be discussed in later entries, but this place is where I call home.  Combining my travel-mode and enthusiasm to catch-up on my missed summer, I packed all of the great things about my version of NY into a week.  I was officially on vacation until after the Labor Day weekend, and it isn’t until now I relaxed to reflect on my journeys and get some things started with my career (which is another story all together).

For the sake of those who mostly skim this blog (and probably my older-self reading this to relive some memories), I will the list of things I’ve done in NY in the past week that I missed doing in Europe.  This was the perfect transition back into the real world, and in some ways I felt like I never left.  It makes me smile knowing that I was missed, like a well worn groove on a sofa – I could just sit down after a long while and get comfortable again.  Anyway, I’ll highlight the few things I missed most:

  1. Eating a Mom-cooked meals at home in my usual spot at the dinner table was fantastic.  If there was a camcorder that recorded every dinner I had with my family at that table, this glorious night coming back from the flight was exactly the same as the ones before – and that’s exactly how I wanted it. Delicious food, smiles, and a lot of chopstick-action.  I had changed from my travels, yet so many newly-learned, well-mannered habits just reverted as I felt the comfort of being a little spoiled by my parents’ attention.  It’s like when you grow up, have a well-paid career, married, and children, but once you step foot in your old house you feel like a little kid again.  Even after being away for so long, it all just snapped back into place.  It was nice to be missed – even by an old routine.
  2. James’ mannerisms and his completely new addition of words to the English language (James’ scrip flow).  Much of it was forgotten when speaking some normal English in Germany, but after coming back, my use of vocabulary in certain situations has significantly changed.  For example, “the streets” are now “the scrips”, and “walking down the street” is “flippin’ a scrip.”  Don’t ask me how this came to be because I don’t even think James knows what flop scropping business he’s doing.  His obsession with dogs and graffiti just brought me back to the good old days.
  3. Jake has a sense of humor all in his own and exudes this air of creepiness around girls that I’ve grown to always love.  It took a while to get used to the silent stare and awkward faces he makes, but it was all fine after a night at the club.  When I think about it, he’s just as much of a nerd as I am, but I don’t think he actually looks like one with his 6 pairs of Diesel jeans.  It’s a phenomenon and I’m glad we each balance each other in the friendship.
  4. Although Justin can be a little bit crazy as times, I missed some of the terrible advice and suggestions he gives in certain situations.  He is the religious one in this group, but seems to say the most immoral things (which are absolutely hilarious).  It was nice catching up an old friend.  He’s got a bit more stubble and pessimism, but I can tell he’s the same friend I’ve known for 15 years.
  5. NYC restaurants are absolutely amazing.  I missed my regular spots like pho & shabu or yuki for sushi buffet.  I spent most of my time meeting familiar waiters and doing my local thing.  I don’t understand why I left to try new food when every street is filled with at least 6 different restaurants for any set of taste buds.  Europe’s food was alright (Spain had some really incredible stuff), but The City just fuses everything to my personal preference. I do feel like Americans care much more about portions than quality, but I’m sure I’ll rebuild my appetite.
  6. I remembered NYC girls being gorgeous and the same with European girls, but I guess I just didn’t share it the same inappropriate and manly ways as with my close friends.  In all honesty, we’re just noticing a pretty girl (and we’re sure they blush and smile knowing we notice them), but we could be a little bit more discrete about it.  I guess that would defeat the purpose of telling them we notice them.  “Dayyyyum” (the more y’s the better) is generally a huge compliment.
  7. Understanding what everyone says makes me feel more at home.  It could be just English natively, but I am referring to the intricacies and expressions that people use that make their personalities. It was more difficult to read people’s personalities while traveling when English wasn’t their second language because I missed the little phrases and expressions they would normally use in their native language.  After returning in a few days, I began appreciating how everyone chooses their own vocabulary to express different things. I could dive deeper into personalities communicating with locals than presenting myself to strangers at hostels.
  8. A phenomenon happened with my clothes.  I thought I would miss them (and I definitely did to a certain extent), but I began throwing away the non-essentials. It’s either my style changed or I’ve lost that fashion touch, but it’s just not as important as I remember it being.  With only 2 or 3 weeks of clothes for 6 months and not buying new stuff, I just felt like it doesn’t matter as much (it was sort of like I shaved my head).  I think I was trying too hard at certain times and I should change my life to fit a more organized and clean life style.

To be honest, the only reason NYC wins my favorite city is due to these people that make it so lively and entertaining.  If all of my faves could move with me, I think I would be happy in any city (as long as they have awesome bars, always filled with transportation, and lots of alcohol).  If there was anything Europe taught me (and there are plenty that will be published in a later entry), it’s that the people make the place – home is where you’d be missed.

~See Lemons Back in NYC