The Domain of Steven Pinnacle of Paperless Perfection



My life has been marked by lack of ambition. There is simply nothing I want thoroughly and continuously enough to diligently work for it day after week after month after year. I want things that make me happy, but that isn't the same as needing them.

The distinction between want and need was one instilled in me by my parents early on, when I would rarely get things that my whims decided they wanted. I learned that really, I don't need much at all. Most things are wants, and I can do without them. I'll live without them. Don't fret if you don't get it.

What if I have applied this rule too liberally to my life? What if, in my (successful) attempt to insulate me from the pain of dejected desires I caused myself to never really deeply desire anything?

I know that is a false statement, though. There have been things I have wanted and believed in with all my heart, but as scars are wont to do, the failures are the ones that make themselves constantly evident to me. I believed in them, devoted myself to them, was willing to do anything for them. I turned myself into things uncharacteristic and unimaginable for them. And yet those causes were wrong. Totally, utterly wrong.

When I now look at them, I recoil. They make me unsure of whether I can ever again really trust my judgment. I recall the certainty with which I elevated my position, and the ruinous falls that would follow. How could I ever be sure of anything again? How could I ever pledge myself to something again?

It's not that I don't, but I feel like it has become too easy for me to abandon them if I need to. That when they're declared void, I simply don't care. It doesn't affect me.

I don't know why I'm fine. In a way, the fact that I am fine makes me think I am otherwise. The absence of feeling loss is what troubles me. All I feel is that, well, you didn't really need them. You may have wanted them, but the fact is that you already have all you need. You had no idea of knowing whether they would have been any good for you in the first place, and there's no use pining for losing what was ultimately a gamble. You ought to just keep on rolling the dice.

Do I not invest myself in people and causes anymore? Have I reduced them to dice, ready to be followed or forsaken according to whatever result happens to show up? Because I think it should hurt more than this.

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Only jetlag and final papers can cause me to be conscious for a sunrise, and final papers don't allow me the liberty to walk over to the BU bridge, hop the construction fence and take pictures of the beauty.

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Japan, to

Sure, I let the end of my junior year go by without a single word to reminisce. And my summer web development job. And my trip back to NYC.

But all of that was the prelude to the main event, my trip to Japan. I leave tomorrow (today, Friday, really) and will be gone for a week with my brother, mom and aunt. Thanks to the time difference, my 14 hour nonstop flight to Tokyo will effectively take a day to get there and mere minutes to return. I will be taking meticulous notes linking my pictures to their descriptions based on time and date taken, because it's unlikely that after the week-long trip I'll remember in what context I took that picture of Hello Kitty or what caption I thought up for that strange mechanical contraption that looks vaguely like a sex toy.

Things I definitely want to cover:

  • Pachinko. I don't like gambling...but this is less gambling and more Peggle/Plinko + cute prizes!
  • Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. This sounds incredibly dull but AHHH MODERN ARCHITECTURE! Should be right near our hotel.
  • DrumMania. Fuck yea, drums. There is no way I am going to pass up the chance to try out the precursor to Rock Band. My brother may link up with GuitarFreaks, but I don't think either of us will try out KeyboardMania...BeatMania was bad enough.
  • Maid cafe? None of us speak fluent Japanese so this may be more awkward than it's worth. And we can't take pictures inside them anyway.

And as for you, viewers, just pray that my shutter finger is itchy and I don't collapse from the extreme humidity over there this time of year.

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Anime Boston 09

This year was the first time I really got my full share of Anime Boston. The past two years I went to the convention, I simply milled about the dealer's room and Artist's Alley, perusing the wares with the presence of mind to only pick out a few select gifts for friends. The convention was just such a big event, my natural instinct was to take it slow and enjoy the scenery.

However I had had enough of just getting my feet wet, and so this year I went to the early badge pickup in preparation for making sure I would be able to see everything I wanted to. Did it work out that way? No, because I'm a lazy bum who hates waking up at a reasonable hour. But I did mark out everything I wanted to see, and then followed that whenever I did get out of bed. (Since Anime Boston is held just a few T stops away, it didn't feel like I was wasting massive travel + hotel expenses on sleeping in.)

As with any good con, there was a variety of cosplaying, from the intricate to the overdone to the creepy to the hilarious.

The last is my requisite picture with something cute yet slightly creepy, as I had done the year prior. Apparently the Hello Kitty dude is from an anime called Hetalia: Axis Powers, but I didn't know that at the time. I had simply seen this random guy in a big Hello Kitty helmet all over the place, and finally decided that I should take a picture with him. Yes, anime conventions are the one place you can walk around in a school uniform with a giant Hello Kitty helmet and be considered awesome even if no one recognizes who you're supposed to be.

Interestingly enough, my favorite parts of the event were not anime at all. Two charismatic personalities ran an alternative roleplaying system panel (titled Beyond D&D), which was entertaining in itself but also gave my friend Elliot a few new ideas and sparks of inspiration for future campaigns.

On the second day made it a point to see the Death Note live action movie, which I approached very tentatively at first, since I'm usually not a fan of the typical over-the-top acting in Asian live action media. I was pleased to find that it was over-the-top in all the right ways, and followed the plot of the anime/manga quite faithfully even when changing elements to better suit the medium. There was plenty of enthusiasm from the crowd that watched it, which can be both a blessing or a curse, depending on whether you can actually discern the movie's dialogue over fangirl squealing.

Interestingly enough, Anime Boston also had a formal ball, dubbed the Black Orchid Ball. The dress code consisted of suits, ties and dresses, but also encompassed formal cosplay. This meant military uniforms, kimonos, princess gowns (not Sailor outfits though). What did this mean? It meant that everyone in the room would look absolutely delicious.

The other big draw of the ball was that the dancing was also formal. As in, ballroom. A part of me was like, "What, those ballroom classes finally have some application in the real world? Score!" This part of me was quite ecstatic, and as soon as I learned about the ball it became the one event I made a point to attend.

The actual ball itself was a bit of a letdown, not because there weren't enough people but because there were people. They fit within the maximum occupancy limit but it was quite overbooked considering that people were not going to be standing around the room, but instead moving around in the dance floor. Our classes at BU have 25-45 people on a basketball court and people still bump into one another; this dance floor was half the size and tried to cram in a lot more. I'm usually good with floorcraft, but I was irritatingly unable to maneuver without looking like a football player rather than a dancer.

I still enjoyed the dances I did steal, got a refresher on the dances that I already knew, and finally learned how to waltz! (It really does feel like gliding.)

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Procrastination is the only reason this post is here to begin with

Junior year is a scant few days away from coming to an end. Three finals and a paper, and I'll be a free man, facing a trip back to NYC that coincides with jury duty, some more rest and relaxation surrounding Anime Boston, and then an internship in Massachusetts.

God that paragraph makes me puke. Yes, it's a status update, but it doesn't really say what I want to say, what I've been wanting to talk about for a while. This and that, little things that I never dug up the resolve to post about. Mostly because I was just never in the right mood, the one that used to strike me a lot more frequently than it does now. But sometimes you have to write. And so to get it out of the way, pictures of what Boston is like right about now:

It's warm, it's humid, it's rainy. It's a Boston spring transitioning into a Boston summer. My favorite picture is the last one, of a canned food drive in the center of BU where the man is doing all the work while the girls lounge and socialize around him. We had a few freak heat spikes, including a sweltering day of 93 that caused me to seek refuge in the well air-conditioned basement where I am employed, but it has settled into a stream of low 60s that stay humid enough to make it feel hotter.

(Insert totally smooth transition to massive dance geekery here!)

I still doubt that my personality has changed, but the rest of me sure seems to have done so. The most drastic shift has been the one towards ballroom dancing. Yes, towards. My first foray was way back in CTY, when I experimented with swing dancing, one of the Sunday extracurricular activities. Total failure. I was quite dissuaded from dancing, convinced that I would be terrible at it if I tried again.

It took a summer overseas, sociable coworkers, and a drink for good luck to convince me to try again. Modern jive nights quickly became the highlights of my week, and although I was not able to find it in the States, I dipped my toes into a much bigger pool by joining a ballroom dancing class here at BU. We tried rumba and tango, which taught me that not all dances for me. Rumba did not click with me, but tango was worth sticking with for another semester, as I signed up for another ballroom dance rotation and a class specifically for tango. Which is how I ended up here:

We had an informal competition in our penultimate tango class, meant to give us a taste of what an actual competition would be like. Most dressed up, although it was not mandatory, and my partner herself eschewed such garb. Elizabeth suggested I wear a black dress shirt, as this was in line with her image of tango dancers, but I didn't own one and had to make do.

We practiced for a few hours on the two Fridays before the competition, which was as much for us to become familiar with each others' dancing styles and patterns as it was for me to teach her a few new moves. Every leader leads and every follower reads a little differently, and so we had to be sure that we were on the same page. I knew that neither of us were on the same level as the better students in the class, so I brought in a few new moves from my first tango class to give us a fighting chance.

And we fought damn well, ranking fourth out of the eleven couples that competed. The top three were phenomenal, so I am more than happy with fourth. We all danced in a preliminary round, then in a very Drumline-esque fashion the teacher walked around the room tapping the shoulders of those who had to leave the dance floor. Tense. You were already spoiled: we were not tapped. Us six finalists then danced a final round where the teacher and the classmates who did not compete voted on who they thought was best.

We had one particularly flashy move that I made sure to whip out whenever we made our way past the audience. This spot of personal pride was waxed several times afterward, as a fellow dancer asked me to show him the steps and it would later become the last move we learned in class.

Finally, these are just for fun. Way back when when I came back to Boston after Winter Break I saw these Pepsi ads in South Station.

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Pokedex Image Database

My database project got full marks. I'll leave it up for a day before I shut down the server. I got all the way to #88, Grimer, before I got tired XD . Credentials for existing users are and password = password.

I incorporated a picture recommendation feature that looks at your pictures, determines the most common tags among them, and then returns five other pictures that include the most of these tags. This is most evident with Generic Trainer (, password) who has only uploaded Grimer and therefore is recommended purple poison Pokemon. Steven Li (, password) only uploaded Charmeleon and Charizard, so naturally he is recommended Charmander and to a lesser degree other fire, red, or lizard Pokemon.

All in all, it was a fun project that I should have started earlier. I had a blast just pumping out code, throwing it online and seeing it stick. I managed to whip it up in the space of three days, and while it is not shiny, I like how it turned out. And, you know, that it turned out at all. Debugging is such a time and morale-consuming unknown...

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*takes them down to where the grass is green and the girls are pretty*

They [robots] operate based on programs which, no matter how complex, follow rules. As broad as the scope of these rules may be, they are unable to do something that they have not been programmed to do. Human responsibility is derived from our ability to act outside of our scope: to recognize what we are doing, recognize the rules imposed by society, and then intending (under no other rule imposed upon us) to break them. - My philosophy paper

Yet their strength and their speed are still based on a world built on rules. Because of that, they will never be as strong, or as fast, as you can be. -Morpheus


In related news, the wild late-night birthday party the Spanish apartment across from me is having makes me happy and awake as I write the rest of the paper. They've played everything from I'm Shipping Up to Las Avispas to Free Bird and Wish You Were Here. They sing nicely for the Spanish songs and awkwardly for the English ones, though to their credit they know all the lyrics.

In class today, the teacher asked, "So what do you guys think? *silence* Well I guess you aren't thinking, because you were up all night writing the paper. And so I guess you didn't read the article either. *tangent*"

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SELECT * FROM pokeballs WHERE = “Pikachu”

For my databases class we need to design a photo-sharing website, along the lines of Flickr. Users can register and upload photos, assign tags to them, search photos by name or tags, and have photos recommended to them based on the tags.

Someone asked whether we would be given stock photos to upload to our site. No, the teacher replied, we would have to provide our own. Well good thing I have something in mind.

I am going to upload the original Pokemon and tag them based on their type and possibly family. "Like Pikachu? You might also like...Raichu, Electabuzz, Voltorb..."

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Except I can see the sun

The chilly, moist air reminds me of English mornings.

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You know you have been programming for too long when you end an English sentence with a semicolon.

(Semicolons are used to end a line of code or statement.)

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