Random Attempts to be Productive

Photos above are each from freedigitalphotos.net… free if I refer to them =)

So the thing about being productive, is that it’s hard to do if you go about it, erm, randomly…?

Yup. I believe that’s common sense to, maybe, most people. And I have plenty of empirical evidence.

Random is not a very precise term, though – you can’t really be productive when you have 2 hours and a million things you want/have to do and have not quite settled on which one to do.

Let’s go with this example:

– It’s 9:20 PM. I’ve gone to the gym (yes, one thing off the to-do list…!) so I’m sitting at the computer. Had arrived at 5 PM, eaten, and then wasted 2.5 hours distracted by the question – ‘Should I go the gym? Should I run outside? Should I… (repeat)’

– OK so back to 9:20 PM. I start…

— Researching types of brain injuries for my SPN fanfic in progress

— Looking for existing SPN fanfic for ‘ideas’

— Downloading Firefox Web Developer and going around the Drupal site to see exactly where to edit CSS (since the changes I saved in the CSS files I have… aren’t showing up…)

— Looking at the collage of open source pictures of African animals and children (pictured!) I have and want to put into a header and maybe background for this website in Photoshop

— Think out scenes of this OTHER SPN fanfic I’ve had in my head for *cough maybe two or three years cough* until it has at least ten significant characters and romance and a lot of things happening and try to refresh the scenes in my head since I thought of it last summer

— Think out scenes of this NOVEL idea I’ve been telling everyone about that’s been in my head since at least 9th or 10th (or in a vastly different form maybe even 6-8th) grade, and wonder if maybe I could use this idea I had in 10th grade about transformation that I discarded then but think miiiiight work now in it, and dream up more AMVs with my characters to music…

— Realize I have to get my Chinese visa done like this weekend/Wednesday at the LATEST (was going to go today but it was too far!)

— Realize I have to get an interview done for UPOP (MIT sophomore internship program) supposedly by the end of July

— Want to meet two friends in DC maybe tomorrow… but have to contact both of them now, oops

— Visit Dramabeans

— Visit Rebel Souls

— Look for the Hermann Brain Dominance Instrument test I had taken in UPOP, where I had scored 70% right-brained and 30% left-brained, mostly falling into the upper right, ‘creative space cadet’ category and weakest in the lower left, ‘conservative, controlled, sequential, detailed’ quadrant.

I was looking for activities that develop my weak lower left quadrant. Found ‘Assemble a personal property list,’ ‘Find a mistake in a bank statement,’ and ‘Jog, don’t run.’

How do you develop your upper right brain? ‘Run, don’t jog.’ And ‘Invent a ‘gourmet’ dish and actually prepare it.’

…Is it OK if I like hanging out in my right brain?

(This is the report I found, that has that information and some more if you are interested!)

— Realized ‘I had this goal to write EVERY DAY RIGHT (and not just compare plot points and plan out mental AMVs)????’

— Decided to blog.

Now…. website or writing… website or writing…

Hmmm…

MORE MUSIC!!!!!!

End of Hiatus! Penitentiary + Energy Conference + China!

Hello! After practically two weeks of inactivity (would have been 10 days but my computer fan broke and Apple kept my computer for FOUR DAYS) I am BACK!!!!!!!

I’m not really sure how to catch up on everything that’s been happening since I last wrote. It’s week 8 out of 11 or 12 in DC.

I’m going to keep it simple because simple posts are fun, and also I started watching this drama called City Hunter like 15 minutes ago… and it looks REALLY good so far… (yes, I did my running today, I’m making a rule of no dramas before exercise… like right now…)

(If these pictures are all different sizes… blame the uploading and “server maintenance!” You had two weeks to do that, wordpress!)

I’ll start off with some snapshots of what’s been happening.

First off…

I’m going to this place…

For an ‘energy trip’, from August 17 to 27th, with other students from MIT and elsewhere. We’ll visit an offshore wind farm, a coal mine, an electric vehicle charging station, the Terracotta Army (there’s some Chinese culture involved), take classes at Xi’an University…

Expect a CHINA feature on this blog, at that time! We’ll see if there’s time to do daily posts about ENERGY! And FOOD! (And err… the rest of China!) And just a shoutout – if anyone has advice on perfecting Chinese vowels in a month, let me know. Maybe I’ll just karaoke Jay Chou songs and be fine since no one Chinese understands what he says anyway. (Like at MIT! Good times!)

All right, more on that later on, now for other news…

July 4th – went to the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. It was a jail meant to ‘reform’ prisoners by keeping them in solo cells… for two years. So they could meditate on their sins. Did it work? Well… (what do you think?)

Here’s a typical cell (inmates stayed in it for 23 hours and got an hour to ‘exercise’ in a field (through the door) the same size about as their cell…:

 

Al Capone was kept here. Look at his cell!

There was also a prisoner that DUG his way out, and several prisoners escaped through the tunnel… (but they were all found pretty soon)

Oh and I learned that what I’m learning at work is RELEVANT in the real world… controllers, anyone? If they can control a bus wash, they can control Death Row too, right? (By the time death row was added, the “penitentiary” had abandoned all pretenses of being one.)

Today, July 13 – Went to the Department of Energy Quadrennial Conference, a series of workshops talking about their energy portfolio!

Most of the morning consisted of ‘we’re trying to make this public and transparent’ and ‘the number one goal here is to fund innovations’ and ‘we need an analysis of where technologies are at or will probably be in 5, 10 years’. There was less of that analysis. But there was a lot of ‘support for innovation!’ As well as talk about the general political barriers/slowness, questions as to how much the DOE can actually do with a shrinking budget, if it’s going to become the next NSF for Energy, etc.

One thing they mentioned was infrastructure – while other countries have ‘made their choice’ as to what infrastructure they want to support (like China, European countries…) we haven’t. Fuel cells, biofuels, electricity… one panelist said ‘we don’t want to pick a winner and have losers’ – which makes sense in an overall portfolio for an immature renewable energy group of technologies, perhaps… but the rest of the panelists said, ‘Hey, we’ve GOT to make some tough decisions here.’ My question is, when will those decisions be made?

Another thing I liked was that panelists said that carbon reduction was a top priority, not just national security or JUST efficiency or lower prices in the short-term or whatnot but CARBON… yes!!!

There are a few videos of the whole conference here!

At work – did a short presentation on my bus wash project, and think it went well!

Running – bought new, lighter shoes, tried to run on the balls of my feet and actually did, for 7 miles on Saturday at 6 on Sunday… (and maybe 4 today… went more ‘natural’ on the last .5 to keep up with my group) But the weekend was awesome because I got to run under this:

That’s my two week update! Now I’m off to figure out how to run Apache, MySQL, and Drupal for REAL, and and and but first watch CITY HUNTER!

ZAI ZAI!!!!! (and Taiwanese drama thoughts)

Vic Zhou (Zai Zai) is going to be in a NEW drama, finally!!!! (According to Jpopasia.com.)

*long crazy fangirl moment*

Okay, for those of you who don’t watch Taiwanese dramas and/or avoid them like the plague, Zai Zai’s this guy that started his acting career in idol dramas, after accompanying his already actor friend to an audition and then reportedly being asked on the spot to audition too.

He started in the Taiwanese Hana Yori Dango (that means “Boys before Flowers” – that was first a manga, then an anime, then a drama in Taiwan, Japan, and finally Korea – I think everyone that watches Asian dramas has watched all of them).

Except while the Japanese version is called Hana Yori Dango and the Korean version is called… well, Boys Over Flowers (english), the Taiwanese one is called Meteor Garden. Don’t even ask me why. I tried finishing the first episode… twice. Maybe there was a meteor somewhere…?

(By the way if you’re not like *yawn* who doesn’t know this or *yawn* I don’t CARE about dramas:

WATCH Hana Yori Dango 1 + 2 (Japanese) (especially 1) and not Boys Over Flowers (Korean). If you want a GOOD drama. If you want to watch Lee Min Ho, a guy who can act and looks awesome while doing it (and is in the Korean version) watch City Hunter (which is airing now). Hasn’t finished – but based on the progress so far? You’ll totally thank me later.)

Oh right I was talking about ZAI ZAI… so in Meteor Garden the four main male characters form this group called F4 (Flower 4) in their pretentious ultra private wealthy kid’s school (the portrayal of the social scene is dark where Ouran’s High School Club’s own is light). The four guys in the Taiwanese version decided to actually make an idol BAND called “F4.” Basically slow mediocre songs that are “wo ai de” on a refrain, competing with Fei Lun Hai for being the most idol Backstreet Boys-copy cat boy band that ever ever idoled. (Actually there are MANY of those things, but back when I was first discovering music I was like “whoa Chinese um Taiwanese music!” Well.)

So let’s sidestep the musical stuff. Meteor Garden wasn’t so great but it was ZAI ZAI’s first time acting. And even so there were a lot of people shipping the “non-cannon” pairing – Zai Zai’s character (the second male lead) and the main girl. Which is interesting because they (he and Barbie Xu) started dating. And then did the darker drama MARS. Whoa.

Sure, Japan has variety (hey has anyone seen YASHA? I know you haven’t. Or Last Friends?), and Korea has genres that are pretty clear and have a variety histogram that looks like a row of thin evenly spaced skyscrapers, but Taiwan? Taiwan is idol drama land. Taiwan is Cinderella land. Taiwan is RainieYang-anyonefromFeiLunHai-MikeHe-anyonefromF4-TiffanyXu-JoeCheng-EthanRuan-ArielLin-anyonefromanyboybandever-QiaoChenEn-MingDao-LinMeiXiu land. (Lin Mei Xiu is an older actress who is in every. idol. Taiwanese drama EVER made. For the watchers – recognize her?) Taiwan is melodrama-pregnancy-marriage-cancer-amnesia land.

Korea has all these things too but it likes to make excuses for them. Taiwan makes no excuses.

Most Korean viewers watch the 16-20 episode dramas while the Taiwanese have created their own adaptation of the same manga the Koreans are using with 30 episodes.

And the Taiwanese draw out the episodes and the dramas with all these “family” scenes, with Lin Mei Xiu having scenes as the country mom or the head-maid or the not-head maid or the employer or the other relative and all the other supporting actor-dramatic-comedians moaning about how they’re going to lose their town in two days with just as much notice because of that big shot businessman that owns a hotel chain or mall or whatever who also happens to be the main male lead of the story. Oh and there are KIDS! There are always cute kids that may or may not be orphans and either keep you interested during those family/social parts where you’d usually be like “CAN WE GET BACK TO JOE AND ARIEL/CHEN EN AND MING DAO/RAINIE AND MIKE RIGHT NOW??????”, and then there are the ones that save the series, like that kid in Autumn’s Concerto. That drama I want to forget I wasted 30 hours on.

If you’re thinking “Can we get back to ZAI ZAI?” then I’ll mention that MARS, based on an awesome manga of that same name, doesn’t waste time like that (only 21 episodes WHATTT). The original story is very strong, but psychological – deals with dealing with traumatic experiences and overcoming them through love and will, even when the road is realistic and bumpy. There are some parts that might have seemed over the top to me (what was her mom thinking to “trust” her ex-husband over her daughter…) but I know that crazy shit does happen in real life and hit you in the face. I don’t think they set up some problems like that one as problems we would expect and thus buy immediately…

WHOA I’m digressing like brownian motion and I don’t even know if there’s a mathematical definition for brownian motion or if brownian motion technically does it but ANYWAY

Why watch these kinds of dramas if I have so many complaints?

Because some of them have heart. It may be difficult to find one that’s very well produced, or entirely consistent, but those moments that count – those moments are some of the greatest moments you’ll ever see or remember in the world of drama. At least it was that way for me.

That’s the way Zai Zai’s “MARS” and “Silence” (melodrama with illness and all that) were like for me. Sure, there was plenty I didn’t like that had to do with direction/editing (duck! It’s a coincidence! duck! Another one! In slow motion!), production, and 1-D characters, and in the second case what javabeans on dramabeans.com would call Noble Idiocy… but. The acting was great. All of his scenes with the lead girl in either drama… man you could live or die with him. The acting is what turns those dramas in my mind from cliches to modern classics. Or at least in my heart.

What do you think is next? Two guesses!

Actually I would probably not watch Silence through again – tried to listen to the OST music to post a music video and was like no – but there are certain scenes that I might. Here’s the beginning song MV. That scene at 2:28… the acting… OMG. The breakups tend to be the most over-dramatized/over-the-top parts of a drama, but the way this scene was built up to and handled and ACTED… amazing. ZAIIII ZAIIIIIIII

(too bad his new drama probably won’t be a romance since he decided to NOT be an idol drama actor anymore… war romance? Awesomeness without romance?)

(And no, I have not finished that one where he’s a writer or Black and White…. yet. But I’m hoping the new drama’s plot will be more intriguing…)

Japanese Drama Ratings

OK all, before I post long drama reviews I’m just going to put ratings and quick thoughts for all the dramas I have seen that I can remember… later I’ll add pics… here goes:

Japanese:

1 Litre of Tears – Tragedy/Romance – first drama I watched, I was blown away by the acting and convinced that nothing could be better for a long time… It will make you think. It really is life-changing.
Need to rewatch to confirm rating, but 9-10/10

Gokusen – Comedy – Ah so good. I watched 2 and part of 1. The actress who plays the main teacher makes the show. It’s hilarious! But the plot is basically the same in each series, so you might be able to stomach only one. If you like Jun Matsumoto from Arashi, pick 1, if you like Kattun more, pick 2, and if you want younger guys pick 3… =P Just kidding, but I’d recommend to try 1 and THEN 2, or 3 on its own =)
9.5/10 for your first one, 5/10 for the third one

Hana Yori Dango 1 and 2 – Romance – HYD 1 was SO SO good. Although I’m not a Jun fan, I LOVED him in this series. So much better than the Korean remake. HYD 2 dragged on though. Too much frigging melodrama in that one. The ending was OK though. Watch 1 or both. But don’t even look at the movie.
9/10 HYD 1, 7.5/10 HYD 2

Hanakazari no kimitachi e – Romance/Comedy – I prefer the Taiwanese version (Hana Kimi). But many people prefer this one. Basically a girl that wants to meet a high-jump champion goes to his all-guys school and pretends to be a guy. Except this girl was so OBVIOUSLY not a guy. They didn’t make her like one or speak like one. The director just wanted to make her look cute. And the boys had all these crazy antics and CLUBS… oh dear…
Well, if you REALLY like Shun Oguri or Japanese dramas in general this is a must-watch, you’ll tell if you’ll like it or not in 1-2 eps.
7.5/10

Nobuta wo Produce – Drama/Comedy – This is interesting. Two guys try to give a girl a “makeover” so that she can become popular and gain self-esteem. A great friendship story, with places for laughter and places for tears (although overall I think the story is light). Yamapi is very funny here, the girl is good, Kattun guy is OK.
8.5/10

Now for the darker ones…

Last Friends – Drama/Romance – Not ALL dark, but… If you want a serious drama that explores um, deep issues like gender confusion and domestic abuse, watch this. Great performances, great opening song – it may be one of the best of this genre, but probably only for serious viewers.
9/10

Yasha – Action/Mystery/Thriller – THE MOST UNDERRATED DRAMA EVER!!!!!!!!! Why does no one know about this? The science aspect is very believable (or you can easily suspend your disbelief like in Jurassic Park) and the acting by Ito Hideaki is just beyond words. Seriously amazing. I love the opening song, I loved the ending… Just watch it, try it PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!
10/10

A Million Stars Falling From the Sky – Mystery/Romance – I totally LOVE the insert song that comes in whenever something crazy happens. The acting is amazing. Not perfect for me, but if you like stories about imperfect – well, VERY imperfect characters, but for a reason – then you’ll like this. Takuya is totally hot. Tragic though, watch if you dare.
9/10

Korean and Taiwanese dramas will wait until sometime within next week!

Video of the day:

Konayuki from 1 Litre of Tears (gives you an idea of what the series is like)

Korean Drama Ratings

Hey all! After some yummy organic vegan chocolate ice cream from this place on 10th street and 2nd avenue called Stogo (if you’re in NYC try it! YUM!!!), I am continuing these drama ratings!

I’m saving the Taiwanese dramas as last but not least! There are some great Korean dramas out there but they mostly seem to follow the cinderella formula… well most asian dramas do but Korean ones seem to make an extra effort to… but Korean ones also have the best pairings too! Anyway here are my ratings, you can also check out http://www.dramabeans.com for even more ratings and actual reviews XD

Korean:

My Girl – Romance/Comedy/Not-really-tragic? – When I was watching this I was amazed by the chemistry from the two leads, even from episode 1 or 2 or so. It was amazing. So natural. And both of them are soooo hilarious!!!
What I didn’t like:
Drunk scenes – too many, too repetitive, they sometimes fed into the storyline but were kind of annoying… especially since the useless second guy was ALWAYS randomly there… anyway you’ll see what I mean…
The ending episodes – Fudge the time lag thing! Fudge pretending! Fudge fudge fudge!!! Well, I won’t reveal any more than that. Just a note to future Korean filmmakers – the perfect ending to any romance involves ELOPING!!! (Well it would to this one at least =P) I hope this was vague enough to not spoil anything. If you haven’t watched it you’re in for a treat for the first 13-14 episodes. That’s all you need really. And maybe the last few minutes of 16. XP
Some parts of the plot: So frustrating, I ended up hating Goo Chan’s gf and Yoo Rin’s dad for his stupidity, but that was only because of the stupid ending so basically this all goes into the ending.
What I LIKED: Chemistry, Yoo Rin’s chicken scene, the whole discovering love-angst… holy crap this was GOOD…
10/10 for episodes 1-14, 3/10 for episodes 15-16

My Name is Kim Sam Soon – Romance/Comedy/Drama – Great, great series, lots of laughs – “Kim Sam Soon” is definitely a character – but not quite as memorable for me. I guess it’s more realistic and it’s supposedly targetted more to middle-aged women because that’s what KSS is, but she is WAY too obsessed with her weight… I mean that’s all she thinks about even near the end and after she’s lost weight… my opinion btw…
Watch it. There should have been a Kim Sam Soon 2 with a more conclusive ending, but on the whole it’s OK enough and enjoyable. Actually, the more I think about it the more I remember it. The way they fall in love is so nice. So many great moments, even among a few awkward ones (mother running into the restaurant to beat the manager up?), but it’s a great show overall!
8.9/10

Boys Before Flowers – There’s no need to actually watch this. Just go read all of Javabean’s episode recaps and you won’t be deprived. On the contrary. You’ll be reading sophisticated material that has some thought put into it – analysis, criticism, sarcasm, etc. – as opposed to the mess that is the original series. Fine. You can try episodes 1-9 – those are OK – but if you want a good series watch the Japanese Hana Yori Dango instead. Or maybe MG.
5.5/10

… I really don’t have energy to do any more right now…

Ones that are apparently good but that I didn’t have the patience to watch: Flowers for My Life, Full House, Return of Iljimae…

OK! Movie time!