Thursday, December 30, 2010

San Diego

Last day in California was quite of a rush, we needed to drive from LA to SD in the morning, take some time off there and drive back to LA in the afternoon just not to miss the flights home from LAX, though some of us did miss after all.
Traffic in LA is terrible, if not worse than NYC. Every hour is virtually rush hour, and since it's so big a city, no matter where you go, you might want to consider a 10 to 30 mins' delay depending on where your destination is. We were clever enough to pull traffic layer out on Google Maps so as to avoid those sections marked yellow and red. Once you are out of LA, road is all yours!
First time to set my feet on a real air carrier in San Diego. The carrier is so huge, we spent 2 hours in the lower decks and when we finally made it to the top deck, only to find a long long line waiting to board the carrier bridge. So had to quit and rush to airport.

Also the first time to get involved in a rear-end collision, not by my fault. Miraculously, though the sound when the collision happened makes me think it's gonna leave a huge dent and scratches on the bump, the rental car survived without even a scratch! Gelievable!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Malibu State Beach

We've made a very wise decision to drive to Santa Barbara via US1 road, it's built along the coastline so as you are driving, you get to appreciate the beauty of the ocean, the Pacific. Malibu State Beach is just one of the places one must stop by along the way.

Lots of rich people live there, so on one side is the great ocean, on the other side on the hill, it's luxurious houses and villas. This is exactly when one would wish to work very hard and make a fortune!

Santa Barbara

Photos by 360 Panorama on iPhone from Superior Court

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Zion National Park

Breathtaking scenery with water falls, mountains, ice, fog and bushes in Zion National Park. It's about three hours drive from Las Vegas crossing Arizona and into Utah. Though it's a short drive inside the border of Arizona, it's not an easy drive. There's this 10 miles' zigzag shaped highway that gives me goose bumps even now I'm thinking about it. It's completely in the mountain, so a lot of frequent sharp turns while on high speed, especially dangerous in the night.
As it gets closer to Zion, you'll start to appreciate the grandeur of nature, be thrilled by the scene and completely forget about all the adventures along the highway.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Las Vegas

Having heard so much about the city on desert, about its gambling business, strip clubs, and how every new couple gets married there, it has never occurred to me that my first visit to this city is primarily for a concert of a super Hong Kong star, Eason Chan.

Typically, anyone who visits Las Vegas would choose to stay in one of these luxurious hotels along Las Vegas Boulevard, spend hours in line waiting for a spot in one of these fancy restaurants for lunch buffet, and then play slot machine in one of splendid casinos, having a foot massage or a spa possibly along the way, and enjoy in one of these gorgeous show arenas one or several strip shows in the night. None of these happened to me in Las Vegas.

So I stayed in a Holiday Inn far off the strip, went to one state park and one national park during the day, and had every meal in Chinatown, spent the night wandering around the strip, watched a Chinese concert in a seat where even the screen looks blurry, took a bold step to the top of Stratosphere tower for three insane rides, which scared the hell out of me and some other kids going with me!

Being special feels so extraordinary!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Valley of Fire

Valley of fire is Nevada's oldest state park just one and a half hours drive to the north of Las Vegas. It gets its name from red sandstone formations. So you are driving and driving, bored by those normal treeless grey hills along I15, but all of a sudden, the the stones and rocks turn red, it's just going from one world to another, except that the other world makes you so exciting.
The other thing about Valley of Fire is petroglyphs just as the one in the photo. It's said that some sort of ancient people used to farm here, and they communicate by these kind of symbols. Well, of course now it's considered rock art open to all tourists.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Pumpkin Night

Thanks to HYZ's whole set of carving tools so that we are able to accomplish such a grand project. Basically you need to first stick a pattern on to the face of a pumpkin, pierce a whole bunch of holes into the pumpkin along the pattern line, saw through the holes to get a prototype of the pattern, polish the edges to make is smooth, light it up and Ta-Dah, you'll get one of these beauties!
I did the witch, the hard part is her hair and face, since they can easily get snapped off. But it turned out to be an art!
It wouldn't last very long, it gets all creased and shrunk and smelly after just a few days

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Move in day

Finally moved in to new apartment, it's a nice place, fully furnished with utility ready to use. Moving is always a hassle, especially the packing part, there're things that you know you would never use, but dumping them would make you regret so much; there're also things that you know you'll have to use it so frequently, but you'd rather get a new one in the new apartment; there're things that you've kept for so long a while just because it's memorable to some event, but in the end you wouldn't give a second thought to getting rid of them just because they're such a burden to carry. So it took me days to pack things up and just 1 hour to unpack them.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Watch out, moving house on highway!

On my way to Orlando, this moving house came into my sight. This makes moving so easy, just lift the house up, load it on a truck, and hit the road. Driver feels tired? Well, just pull over, unload it somewhere in the grass, get into the cozy house, there you go!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Not for kids

For a first timer, firing a gun could be so overwhelming and sweating. Each step is proceeded with extreme caution, people could die in there for god sakes! Can't believe it only takes an ID to play with real guns in USA, never dream about such things in China, though we played quite a lot toy guns with these BB plastic bullets when we were young, it never comes to my mind that one day I would be holding and firing a real thing. So this has added to our excitement when we were actually aiming at the target and pulling the trigger. I could even imagine how wide open my Chinese friends' mouth would be when I show them these pictures. It was fun and very special experience!

Friday, August 13, 2010

FACSS Site Tour

Spent hours doing this just so it's fluent without long pauses, correction of bad wording, mismatch of video and audio, external noise, whatever that makes it flawed. It turned out pretty much to my satisfaction.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Alaska license plate in FL

It must has gone through a hell lot driven from Alaska, the very northwest, to Gainesville Florida, the very southeast. It doesn't seem like a rental car, in which case it might have served a couple of drivers around the US and finally reaches FL and never finds its way back to Alaska ever again, that means there's possibility it's going home at some point. Now, I would be really so astonished to see a Hawaiian car.

Friday, July 9, 2010

East US Roadtrip

10 days road-trip through east US, or a "glance of US universities" as we call it since a handful of famous US universities, some are in Ivy, is in route of our schedule.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Well, this is embarrassing

This was taken inside the bathroom of Maguire common room. Embarrassing enough to Chinese. The font looks weird to me, the boldness of the characters is not even, and don't even mention about the lousy translation. It's not like the Chinese broadcasting at the airport in US, or a Chinese version brochure at a famous tour site here, which we would probably feel proud of, this is a Chinese translation of warning Chinese not to grab the toilet tissues in a public bathroom. Why not French, Korean, or Spanish? It's like we Chinese are stealing it all the time, and we need to be warned in our native language just in case we don't understand English, not to do so.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Double Rainbow in Gainesville

It's like one is just not enough, let's double it! Absolutely astonishing, especially when you have the full view of the rainbows. The upper rainbow is not as evident as the lower one, and this seems to be a universal phenomenon from the pictures I've searched online, probably it has to do with certain physic theory.

Click below to see more double rainbow:

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Pick Blueberry

It's a blueberry farm located just outside Newberry FL, where only AT&T subscribers have the privilege to make and receive calls. We have full load of 5 cars, with only a handful on AT&T, and the rest on T-Mobile. The farm is quite off the GPS, so we spread out to find the location, and suddenly realized we could not communicate with each other because we do not have AT&Ter on each car, so once I found the location, I would have to drive all the way back to notify all the other 4 cars. Quite the way ancient people did it, huh? It's quite fun. That's when I decided to switch to AT&T with the new release of iPhone 4.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Thunderstorm Season

Thunderstorm everyday, looks kinda scary, isn't it? Nah, not that much, it has been like this for weeks, it's not like it's gonna rain the whole day everyday. Mostly in the sunny afternoon there will be one or two thunderstorms, lasting less than an hour on average. So everything will be cooled off during that hour, but after that hour, everything goes back onto its original track so soon that you wouldn't realize that there's been thunderstorm already. So it's not as bad as it seems, actually I kinda like it as long as I'm not caught driving in the thunderstorm. That's free car wash everyday, why not like it.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Silver Springs Nature Park

Just in case you haven't heard about it, other than sunshine, Florida is also a state of gators. So in the Silver Springs Nature Park in Ocala, FL, you would see ordinary gators, gators with sharp head, albino gators, mini gators, gators parking by waterside, fat gators, gators with special patterns, cartoon gators, gator statues, well, you name it.

Other than gators, there's pretty much nothing else to see, just kidding! Plenty more animals waiting for your patronization. Like this bathing bear, that curious giraffe, those two making-love cougar, that god-knows-how-old turtle, and that famous Llama to the very right corner. It is so famous that in China almost every young individual knows it. In Chinese, its name is "Cao Ni Ma", which phonetically translated to English is "F*ck your mother". Since many of the dirty words have been "harmonized", this animal has been worshiped and treated as a symbolic figure of "harmony". We even have a song for it, "the song of Cao Ni Ma"

Friday, May 14, 2010

Marion County Park

Marion County Park is a little island in Marion County Lake, right on I24. It seems people like to bring their family in RVs and camp there. Everything you see is green and blue, green mountain, green grass, green trees, blue sky and blue water. It all seems so harmonious, bring you so close to mother nature. What a scene!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Climbing at Foster Falls

Foster Falls is said to be a climbing heaven in Southeast. It's got all sorts of routes there, great camp sites, and nice view of the falls (as can be seen below). I didn't know it's such a popular sport until I saw dozens of climbers on site with us, middle-aged, young; male, female, all geared up and climbed as they were walking. It all looks so simple and easy, but I was so wrong.

A friend set up a simplest route for me, the first climber, and taught me all the safety instructions, I thought, "well, that's easy, just get hold of some holes with my hands, move up a little bit with my feet, and grab some other holes and move up still, keep doing that, I should be on top nice and easy in no more than 5 minutes." But after 5 minutes, I was only 1 meter higher than where I started and couldn't move up any further, besides, I felt no energy in my arms and hands, that's when I realized the difficulty of climbing.

Later they told me that the point in climbing is do NOT use your hands to hold your body on the wall, use your feet, otherwise you could easily be exhausted. Relax your hands every now and then when you are able to stand on your feet. Following that, I managed to finish another route, though with the help of my shoulder, back and face, anything I could think of to keep myself on that rock. It feels so good to conquer something difficult to you. I think that's one of the reasons why so many people love climbing

Our tents

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Pocket Lamp

Got this little toy from for 99 cents, free shipping from Singapore. It's of credit card size so that you could put it in your wallet. Simply lift up the bulb-like transparent flat plastic and it's lit up by two LEDs beneath it. It comes in handy when you are in the dark and reaches into your wallet trying to find some changes. Good idea and good product for that price.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Identity Theft

Recently I suffered from identity theft on one of my BOA debit card. Apparently one of the merchants that I purchased some goods from online thus keeps a record of my debit card information underwent some hack activity in their order system, this leads directly to the compromise of my check card. Dozens of transactions which I didn't make showed up in my account statement over night, pending. I'm kinda anxious when my account balance goes from positive to negative and goes further down each day not knowing if I'm responsible for any of that. Here's what I did the moment I knew there's Identity Theft on my card:

1. Call Fraud Department and report identity theft, they'll close your debit card and issue a new one.
2. Call Claim Department and ask back your money which you haven't spent.
3. Wait for the affidavit, sign and return it.
4. Get a credit card!

When I first opened my bank account, this beautiful young lady advised me to have two checking accounts, one for daily use and one for online purchase only for security reasons. I didn't know back then that identity theft is such a serious problem in US. I'm very glad I took her advice and kept only minimum balance on the "online-only" card. Things could be way worse if I had only one card.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Tubing in Ichetucknee State Park

Ichetucknee Springs State Park is located about 40 miles northeast of Gainesville, an awesome place for tubing. 6 dollars entrance fee per vehicle, and tubes rental varies from 5 dollars to 15 dollars depending on the size. There are three tubing options: 3 hours from north entrance to south entrance; 1.5 hours from midpoint to south entrance and 45 mins from Dampier's Landing to south entrance. We took the 1.5-hour one, wonderful tubing experience. You can swim in the water, you can also climb on to the branches along the bank and make an impressive diving into the water, or you could just stay in your tube, go with the flow and relax.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Graduation Day

UF couldn't have picked a hotter day to held its annual Graduation Ceremony, it's said to be the hottest day ever since last October, with 94 degrees highest. You still need to wear cap and gown and pose like a hundred thousand of times in the sun, just thinking about it makes me sweat. It's THE biggest day ever, most of them have suffered four years for this very day, so a little sweat wouldn't be that much of a problem.

It just reminds me of the two graduation ceremonies that I missed. The first one at SYSU, I booked a flight prior to the ceremony; second one at HKUST, I couldn't make it back to Hong Kong. It seems I have this little thing with graduation ceremony. How many graduation ceremonies could one have in his/her entire life, I've already missed two, and am not sure if there's gonna be a third one; if there ever was, I might've still missed it for whatever reason there is.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Final season

Three more days to go till summer break officially starts!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A glimpse at UF campus

It's a sunshine Monday afternoon, on UF campus, across Beaty Towers, where there is this wide open area of lawn, always patronized by bikini girls and frisbee guys. Don't say that I'm conservative or anything, you don't see these kind of relaxation in China, at least not on university campus in China.

Some of my Chinese friends told me that they always wanted to do the same thing but never have the guts to do it. The reason being the way we were educated and lack of confidence in a foreign country. But as a foreigner, I quite enjoyed the view.

Friday, March 19, 2010

7 mile bridge in True Lies

Rumor says that's how the bridge has that breach there, yah, the jet bombed it up. Believe it or not, the bridge is so famous partly owe to the movie, at least I know the bridge because of the movie, and made it a must-not-miss-site when I visited Key West. Now it's open to walking tourists, so you can simply park your vehicle at the intersection of the old and new 7 mile bridges, and walk to the "bombed one". The view is absolutely astonishing!

View Larger Map

Thursday, March 18, 2010

2010 US Census

I'm not paid to promote this, just feel excited to see Chinese in US government official letter. Probably Koreans will feel more excited than I am...

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Spring Break II - Tampa

When it's spring break, you would expect an influx of students from northern states to Florida, it's either Miami beach, or Disney World in Orlando, or the southernmost point in Key West. So when you plan your trip during that period, try avoid going to those hot students spots, because you know, traffic would be bad, and students would be everywhere. So we decided we go to Dali Museum, a place students definitely would not consider for spring break. This is taken outside Dali Museum.
We got to Clearwater beach at 4pm, hardly found a parking lot. The sand is so white, but the water stinks. West Palm Beach is way better.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Spring Break I - Savannah

It's a 4 hours' drive from Gainesville FL to Savannah GA, a great place senior people to live. There is this Savannah College of Art and Design, it has buildings all over the town, and students there have quite different tastes in appearance, unlike the students I see at UF, whose styles are more or less the same. This is the famous Forsyth Park Fountain.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

ISOM Workshop

It's annual workshop hosted by ISOM department, which means free food at Hilton hotel as well as work presentations from big names in IS/OM area. Well, I enjoyed it, especially when I got this little Gator clip. It comes with my name tag and conference folder, so basically my name tag is clipped to the folder by this little gator. It's very small and light. I like it, I would love it if it's made of gold.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

T-Shirt War

Amazing idea! This group worked for two days, "wasted" 222 T-shirts to make this video. I just hope they're using "rewritable" t-shirts, but that would've taken more time.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Google Buzz

This was several hours after Google launched its Buzz.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Swingle Singers

It's so cool! Wonder if we can do it in next year's performance

Friday, January 22, 2010

UF ranked 2nd in Best Values in Public Colleges

Good news for University of Florida. Probably because of its low in-state tuition and reputation for sports.

Way to go, Gators!

Source: Yahoo!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Speeding Ticket

A 241 dollars' speeding ticket, that's only 2 months after I got my drivers license. They say, every driver will have their first pull-over sooner or later, but mine comes a little bit too soon and the price too high. Anyway, lesson learnt, when you are driving on local road to Jacksonville, do as the speeding limits say and do so as fast as you can, because somewhere in the woods or on little trails, right where the speed limit signals you to slow down, ambushes "invisible" police cars. So you better look for these speed limit plates and step on your brake hard once you see one!

Friday, January 1, 2010

2010 Countdown at Magic Kingdom

This amazing firework show recording was made possible only after standing at the same spot for more than 2 hours. Wanna move a little bit? Yeah, first try to lift your left foot, put it nice and slow to the tiny little spot between god knows how many legs on the ground, try to avoid stepping on somebody's knees or feet or livers or anything. Then turn your body 137.98 degrees to the right and lift your right foot and put it in another spare spot, and repeat this for like several dozen of times, congratulations! You've made it to a new location, oh, no, wait, just 10 inches from your original location! You get the idea. It was people everywhere, either standing or sitting and lying on the floor or by the fences, all waiting for the last moment of 2009 to shed on the beautiful castle. What a night in Magic Kingdom! The best countdown ever!

Happy New Year!