My life

2008 Class Ski Trip

Usually, I’m not kind of nervous and very excited at the same time, but now is one of those exceptions. The reason for that is that I am going skiing this week! On Wednesday, January 2, 2008, my class (all of 8 people, including our teacher) will be driving up to the Catamount ski area in Upper New York and Massachusetts (on the state border).

This year, I have a number of new pieces of ski apparel, listed as follows:

  • Rossignol ski pants
  • Under Armour ColdGear mock-neck
  • Falke ski socks
  • LL Bean 3-in-1 parka
  • The North Face Thresher hydration pack (hopefully the one-half hour I spent washing it out got rind of the nasty chemical taste)

This trip is really supposed to be a snowboarding trip, where my classmates will learn to snowboard (possibly without professional instruction). However, I opted to continue skiing, for two reasons:

  • Skiing is usually significantly cheaper.
  • Since I already know how to ski, why waste a trip on trying something I might not like?

In conclusion, I have a strong feeling that this will be one of the best ski trips of my (very young) life, based on the current weather forecast and my experience with skiing.

Regents – Yet Again!

The time of year has come – my first NYS Regents exam will be administered tomorrow. This year I am taking the Global History, Comprehensive Hebrew (as a language), and Chemistry / Physical Setting tests. Overall I don’t feel too prepared for any of them. However, as my dad says:

If you aim low, you will almost always succeed.

What Is Wrong With Me?

People do make stupid mistakes. That doesn’t mean they aren’t stupid. It means that they either don’t pay attention before they perform the mistake, or ignore the after-effects. I chose the former, by deleting my Technorati claim on Educated.

I thought I was deleting the claim on (one of) my other, totally untouched blogs. But at this point I’d like to thank Technorati for not providing those WordPress-like confirmations that are shown in another page (they use simpler JavaScript popups, which I’ve seen so many of that I could click OK to one thousand of them while in a coma). By the time the claim deleted screen came around, it was too late to realize that I had deleted the actual Educated claim.

The only positive note here is that it doesn’t take too long to get everything (except the blog description) back in order. Just make sure you put in the exact URL to the blog as you had before, or else Technorati will treat the blog as a totally new one.

Remember this, and you’ll save your bottom dozens of times: Look before you click.

Educated Voice Podcast: Episode 01

Matt got me a bit jealous with the opening of his podcast series. So I followed suit. I’m excited to bring you the very first episode of the Educated Voice podcast. In this episode, I talk a little about podcasting, and discuss why I used to not like podcasts. Enjoy the show!

Download Episode 01

House: Combining Drama and Medicine

Since this past November, I’ve been trying to keep up with the thrilling House series. The show highlights various human emotions and the marvels of modern medicine. The main character, Dr. House (acted by Hugh Laurie) is an evil genius, annoying his colleagues while saving people’s lives. From the House section of Fox.com:

From executive producers Katie Jacobs, David Shore, Paul Attanasio and Bryan Singer, HOUSE, an innovative take on the medical drama, solves mysteries where the villain is a medical malady and the hero is an irreverent, controversial doctor who trusts no one, least of all his patients.

DR. GREGORY HOUSE (Hugh Laurie) is devoid of anything resembling bedside manner and wouldn’t even talk to his patients if he could get away with it. Dealing with his own constant physical pain, he uses a cane that seems to punctuate his acerbic, brutally honest demeanor. While his behavior can border on antisocial, House is a brilliant diagnostician whose unconventional thinking and flawless instincts afford him widespread respect.

Dr. House seems to like torturing people’s emotions in his own process to finding cures. He has a wonderful sense of sarcasm, and a vast knowledge of medical treatments.

His assistants, Drs. Cameron, Chase, Cuddy, Foreman, and Wilson, all admire his mixed personality. They believe that he has the knowledge to make things go, even if it takes more than one try, which is often the case. Never knowing what a patient is telling the team (or not telling them), they work extremely hard to resolve their cases.

House airs on Tuesday nights from 9:00 to 10:00 PM ET. Schedules can be found on the Fox Web site.

Ski Trip 2007

After all these months of waiting, my school took us skiing last week (as I posted about earlier). It’s a little disappointing to say that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy myself, partly because of the lack of rest before hand. But at least I did go skiing, which I am very thankful for being able to do.

Interstate 80 (I-80 from now on) is a marvelous highway. It goes all the way from the George Washington Bridge (in New York / New Jersey) to California, and covers significant territory in between. I-80 also is one of the most common routes to the Pocono Mountains from New York. Fortunately, this super-highway was practically empty on Thursday morning, like it usually is at that time of day.

This trip was a bit different to me, because after I got dressed and picked up my gear for the day, I was able to hit the slopes right away (which is exactly what I did). I don’t know whether this particular set of steps was efficient or not, but either way it would have taken some time to get all ready:

  1. Fill out rental form, pick up boots, and try them on.
  2. Go down to changing room, change, come back up.
  3. Get the rest of the gear.
  4. Find a locker, take out and put away various things.
  5. Hit the slopes!

I started off on Camelback’s Coolmoor beginner trail with a few warm-up runs, and then went over to The Birches and The Meadows. This was the majority of my excitement for the day, which included a few runs with my friends.

I learned a bit more about controlling speed, which is essential on any trail other than the bunny slopes. I figured out an inefficient but effective way to get absolute control over how fast I’m going. With this technique, one ski is at an angle, with the other ski pointing straight down the hill and positioned slightly behind the angled ski. With the application of pressure on the tilted ski, you directly control your speed, but if you want to go faster, the straight ski allows it to happen.

This trick helped me make it down trails in one piece, but it came with an at-first unexpected side effect. It takes a lot of effort to keep the downhill ski in position, most of which I concentrated on my right knee, and I ended up with a bit of aching in that leg as well as the knee for the rest of the day. Stupidly, I didn’t take a lesson this trip (anytime I saw a ski school instructor, they were working with someone, and when I managed to find any other employee, it was for something else), so I didn’t officially learn anything new. I still feel a bit depressed about this mistake.

By the time lunch rolled around, I was really out of it. I ate somewhat slowly, constantly sighing at my level of “wiped out-ness”. Skiing, with or without made up techniques, is really a tiring sport, using muscle groups one never knew existed. Add the adrenaline rushes (after just avoiding falls) to the mix, and you’ve got one exhausted skier.

I didn’t do a whole lot after lunch. I sat around in the lodge, talking with my principal, and staring at the nice scenery outside the windows. I did manage to make two or three more runs later on, but they were kind of bad. My knee was about to crumble (not literally), and I felt like I could fall asleep while watching the trees go by on The Meadows.

For dinner, my class set up for a barbecue in the farthest parking lot. We had hot dogs and burgers, with pickles and soda on the side. I did enjoy this, even with the finger-freezing winds present at the time. We ate the food basically straight of the grill, decreasing the total time it spent in cold air, and helping to make sure we were able to get back home on the van with the rest of the school (I think my principal would have left without us if I didn’t have the key to the van, which I had used earlier to get something).

After this trip, I really thanked myself for buying my Smith Universal Helmet Helper, which currently is a bit difficult to find. If it wasn’t for the five dollar piece of plastic that extends a goggle strap, my eyes would have been stressed out too.

Lessons for next trip: Do more, and stick with the group. For the former part of that statement, I mean that I want to try even more trails, and take a good lesson, and for the latter, I am saying that I should stay with my friends most of the time. But for any trip, the main goal is simple: Have fun!

The LIRR Experience

As a native New York City resident, I haven’t had that many opportunities to ride the Long Island Rail Road throughout my life. The last time I took the LIRR, I noticed the difference between the city and the (so-called) Island, but more specifically, the subway and railroad. After riding the train today, I wondered why the MTA doesn’t focus its attention on the city as much. Maybe someone will get up one day and say “Why can’t we join in the crowd?”

Before even getting to Jamaica, I realized that the railroads are more expensive than the ticket price. You have to pay to get to your station, whether it be gas for your car or a MetroCard for the bus or subway. Also, those who drive in suffer the agonizing task of finding parking, which, unless they get out at the crack of dawn (or earlier), will spend a long time doing.

One of the first things that I noticed after arriving at Jamaica Station was the Ticket Lobby down at street level. I went in there to buy my ticket, and ended up heading back in while waiting for my train. It was relatively warm in there, and felt like a comfortable place to be in. Also, on the tracks above, there is a waiting room on each platform. By comparison, NYC subways don’t have waiting times like the railroad’s, so there is no need for any type of waiting room.

On the train, there was very little noise. Although the train did go pretty fast in a few areas, there was no sounds indicating so. There were relatively comfortable seats within the car. However, the combination of being able to see where the train is going (unlike the dark subway tunnels), combined with sitting a rear-facing seat, made me slightly nauseous throughout the ride.

One annoying thing about the railroad is the constant automated announcements. They consist of a ding-type noise (ding, second or two, dong), and then the message, which was usually something that was said many times before. I think that contributed to the nausea.

Overall, I like the railroad. Quiet trains and a comfortable ride made my Wednesday. But for city-boys like me, it’s a bit expensive to ride the LIRR.

Need For Feeds – Web Style

A while ago I got into the habit of reading posts from several blogs (like Lorelle on WordPress and Dave Seah blog) in an attempt to do these things:

  1. Learn new things.
  2. Waste time.

Now the only way reading people’s feeds can help me accomplish those goals is if they actually make posts on their blogs for me to read. Today, I looked at the ever-so-convenient Feeds menu in Opera, and saw not a single feed with new posts. I immediately thought to myself, “I am so bored, I need something to do.”

A minute later Opera refreshed the feeds, bringing in my daily dose of reading. What a relief that was!