Posts Tagged ‘friends’

Festival of Books

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , ,
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It’s that time of year again!  This weekend was the LA Times Festival of Books and I went with some friends.  This year they had a mobile scavenger hunt with the prize of an iPad.  Panda and I decided to participate and we invited our friend, Houdini, to join in.  Saturday, Houdini and I spent a good 4-5 hours running around the UCLA campus answering clues to the hunt.  I unfortunately took a hit when I got a question wrong, but that allowed Houdini to get a perfect score on the hunt… let’s just hope he gets enough bonus points for pictures to outdo the competition!  That’d be awesome, considering it’s his first time to the fair!

The focus this year really centered around the scavenger hunt, which was really a nice way to check out most parts of the event.  From the poetry corner to the kids’ stuff to the cooking stage to the news booths, we saw a lot!  It was also nice to get out on such a beautiful weekend rather than lazing around all day like I usually would.  I do need to get (and stay) more active and though my back hurt and my legs were aching after the first day, it felt good to be outside moving around.  I also ran into some random people, which is always fun.

I found that this year I didn’t really have an interest in checking out the booths like I have in previous years.  Perhaps it is because there were so many people there that anything I might have wanted to do would have taken up a lot of time standing in line.  Plus, I wasn’t out to buy anything, so none of those booths interested me, and I’ve never been one for book signings or readings or cooking shows.  It’s nice to just hang out and enjoy the atmosphere and catch bits of performances as I pass.

festival of books poster on wall

It has found a nice home over the fireplace.

Oh, and then today we got word that Houdini won the iPad from a raffle we entered on Saturday!  Pretty awesome, especially considering we were really donating money to help homeless people when we bought those tickets.  I remember seeing it was a 32 gig one, which is better than the one the LA Times has up for grabs from the scavenger hunt!  That one seems out of our reach though.  And as Panda and I were going through completing the hunt for him today, we were able to snag a really nice poster and a button, which was great for him since he has empty walls to fill and collects buttons.  🙂  All in all a great weekend, no?  If only I could have won that iPad so I could feel better about the iPod Touches that I no longer own…  😛

Closing time

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , ,
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Yesterday my friend and I tried to go eat at a restaurant half an hour before its closing time, only to be turned away because they close the kitchen an hour early.  What?!?!  That is ridiculous.  Most meals only last about 40 minutes or so.  I absolutely hate when restaurants stop serving food way before closing time.  I once ran down to a place I wanted to eat at and made it 20 minutes before they were supposed to close, only to have the doors pretty much shut in my face.  And here I thought restaurants would want to maximize the amount of customers they serve, but I guess going home is far more important.

What really bothers me about this is that it’s so misleading.  Do I always have to plan on showing up at least an hour before the listed closing time, even if I only plan on a quick meal?  In last night’s case, we even called at 10:15 and asked when they close that night – they told us 11.  Why didn’t they bother to tell us that, oh by the way, the kitchen is closed?!  It’s not like we were asking when they usually close.  We asked when they were closing that night.  Hint, hint, we wanted to eat there TONIGHT.  Those hours of operation are unreliable.

I think there should be legislation that forces restaurants to list their opening hours as when they stop serving new customers (and listing when they actually kick the customers out of their shop would be optional).  After all, we’re going there to eat, don’t we have a right to know at what time we won’t be able to do so anymore?  Restaurants should not get away with tricking people into thinking they’re open far more than they actually are.  It’s like this one boba place that I’ve heard doesn’t even serve boba until at least half an hour after opening.  They should have to note that on the door with their opening times!  After all, much of the draw of their store is the boba.  People don’t just go to get any old drink; they could do that somewhere else that’s probably open earlier anyway.

So if you ever open a restaurant, please take it upon yourself to do the responsible thing and let people know if your food isn’t served until half an hour after your doors open or if it is no longer served an hour before your doors close.  It’s vital information that’s typically far more relevant than when those doors lock and unlock.  Thanks.

Finals tradition

laelene Posted in video blog,Tags: , , , , , , , ,
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At UCLA, students like to de-stress during finals by doing some silly things, like Midnight Yell and Undie Run. In case you feel like you’re missing out on the fun, here is a look at what it’s like to be a part of the Wednesday night tradition that grew so big it was banned. It would have been tonight (and I know a small group still showed up to do it – we’ll see how that went down when the Daily Bruin comes out tomorrow).

To start, there is a lot of cheering, singing, screaming, and all-around joy.

undie run from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

At the stroke of midnight, the crowd begins to move, hollering at the top of their lungs. Note the traffic lights that have been disabled – police took measures to ensure motor vehicles stay away from pedestrians overtaking the roads.

undie run begins from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

In the recent year or so, the route of Undie Run was changed to go through this tunnel, which actually makes it quite fun since it’s so thunderous in there.

through the tunnel from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

Bruins enjoying themselves always shout “UC! LA!” and do multiple 8-claps (not captured).

spirited undie run from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

The last “legal” Undie Run was re-routed once again so that it ended not by Powell Library and Shapiro Fountain, but on the IM field, where there were plenty of lighting and spectators, including this helo!

helo checks out undie run from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

All in all, a great celebration that gives students a relatively innocent outlet for the intense studying that had taken over their lives for the past week or two. It’s a pity the university wasn’t willing to work out another revision to allow it to continue. I’m sure the students will continue to fight for it, until they either get it back or find a new way of letting out their tension.

Making waves

laelene Posted in video blog,Tags: , , , , , , , ,
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Ok, rather unrelated, but both have to do with the word “wave.” First, a wave that went around the Rose Bowl. Fifteen (maybe sixteen) times!

the wave around the rose bowl from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

Then, wave boarding afterwards! The wave board I got in China had light-up wheels, which was just plain fun and awesome to play with in the dark.

waveboarding from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

Difference in perspective

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , ,
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to-go ware chopsticksAs I was getting lunch at Kaya today, I noticed their chopsticks resemble the pair I have in my To-Go Ware set.  It reminded me of the day when Panda saw them and asked me why they were warped.  Months later, when another friend came back from grad school in the East Coast, he saw them and asked the exact same thing.  -____-  Whereas I and our other friend, a history major, saw them as artistic, they saw them as warped.  Wow.  A lesson in the differences between North and South campus majors!

to-go ware chopsticks with twisted ends

See the gentle curving to give them more character?


At UCLA, North campus houses most of the humanities and social sciences and South campus houses most of the life sciences and physical sciences.  The School of Theater, Film, and Television is as north as you can get, while the School of Engineering is in the southern half.  We often joke about this separation, but in this case, there truly is a disparity between the way we interpret things.  North campus majors recognize the beauty and elegance of a twisted shape; South campus majors recognize a purposeless deformation.  Ultimately, we’re looking at the same thing, but our differing opinions of the chopsticks’ design would easily lead to a scenario where I buy them, only to have Panda return them as he wondered why I bought them at all. It’s funny, isn’t it, how differently we view the world?

A rejuvenating experience

laelene Posted in photo blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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The past week has been really hard on me, as the pressure to get a job grew and my parents and I had a tiff over my sleeping pattern and job search, among other things.  So, it was an absolute blessing that Opportunity Green was holding a retreat over the weekend.  One of the Board Members owns Casa Barranca, a fabulous estate out in Ojai.  People who had contributed to the Opportunity Green Conference back in November were invited to either stay the weekend or swing by on Saturday or Sunday to hang out.  Tucked in the hills of Ventura County, in a gorgeously maintained house from the early 1900s, I got to spend my weekend relaxing, enjoying nature, and chatting with some really amazing people.

pasta, salad, and schnitzel for dinner

Delicious potluck to start off the weekend.


Friday night I arrived thinking I was late for dinner, but it turns out the days drag out so peacefully and slowly there that dinner hadn’t even been thought of yet.  I hung around the kitchen, talking to some of the people I hadn’t really gotten to know prior to the conference – we were all so busy, after all!  It was already completely dark outside when I pulled up around 6:30, so it felt like 11 when we eventually got around to preparing the food.  I think it was more like 7:30-8.  But that’s the thing about being far away from the city and its lights and noise; time stretches itself to its very limits and you discover how much can be done in just a few minutes, a few hours.  There’s a serenity about Casa Barranca that relaxes you and lets you forget that you have an inbox full of e-mails or that your favorite TV show is on.  In fact, there isn’t a television in the entire place, which I found to be one of the best choices they could have made.

yoga studio at casa barranca, detached from main house

That yoga studio was to die for!


The house itself is absolutely lovely and you should definitely check out the virtual tour on the Casa Barranca website.  Besides that, there are a bunch of little bungalows or “teahouses” sitting around the property and small cabins as well.  You can easily fit 30-40 people without ever feeling overcrowded.  When I got a chance to first see the grounds during the day, it was even better than I imagined.  The yoga studio sits perched at the top of a hill overlooking part of the valley below.  There’s no better location to get in touch with your inner spirit and truly experience some Zen.  Between that and the house lies a little orchard, teeming with citrus trees of all sorts!  Since part of the grounds is an organic winery, I think it’s safe to assume those fruits were organic too.  I meant to pick one to try, but was so distracted by the beauty that I forgot to.  There’s also a chlorine-free pool and hot tub, small field to frolic in, a koi pond, a hammock, and so many great vantage points!

casa barranca wine tasting & gallery

A cute little shop in the middle of town!


The town is also a delight, with a main street that is lined up with little shops.  The Casa Barranca tasting room is right next to the ice cream shop (and thank goodness, because I got hungry pretty quickly and needed something to fill me!).  I felt slightly out of my comfort zone in their downtown, which didn’t have lights illuminating every inch of street.  When I was directed to the nearest ATM, I turned around too early because the lights stopped.  It seems that their town is so safe and quiet that they don’t need lights all over the place.  It was strange to be back in that type of place again, after years in the city.  At night when I went to sleep, I was struck by how absolutely silent it was out there.  It was completely dark as well, and laying there was such a tranquil experience.  The rest of the people had long since called it a day and were no doubt happily dreaming away in their respective beds.  I’m glad I had a roommate to share the space with, otherwise everything might have seemed too still.  But with another person in the room, I fell asleep easily as a long day caught up with me.

cool (and difficult) yoga pose

Can you believe it was only her first time teaching? She did a fantastic job and should totally be a yogi.


I slept in until 10:30 on Saturday, but was still able to enjoy a full day, complete with yoga, sitting out in the sun, chatting in front of the fireplace, going down into town to watch the Casa Barranca wine tasting (mentioned above), playing Spoons and BS, lots of opportunities to experiment with the ISO settings on my camera, an intense game of Jenga, and some hot tubbing.  It was really nice for the day to go on forever, since it allowed me to have a multitude of quality conversations with some remarkable people.  We talked about all kinds of random things, from what they do to what I want to do to what drives us and how we came to get involved with Opportunity Green.  In the mix was also random talk about crazy cat ladies and women who obsess over fake babies.  Sharing some of my ideas really helped me think about what it is I want from life and the like.

people walking along a hiking trail

We came across some great vantage points and learned to be grateful for every bit of shade we got.


On the final day, I got up at 9:30 when I was told we were leaving for the hike.  About a dozen of us headed out along the trail, making our way up the path in the morning sun.  After awhile, those of us with long sleeves began to regret the decision and the few who brought water found themselves sharing with the group.  We met some wonderful people along the way and got to play a bit with their adorable dogs!  Two of the people staying at the retreat had brought their dogs, one of which came along for our hike (even though she’s 13!).  The trip was absolutely worth the huffing and beads of sweat that began to form, as we were rewarded with views of so much greenery it was hard to imagine life back in the city.  It was a great way to spend the morning before heading out in the afternoon.  Though physically I was tired from more physical exertion than I had done in months, it was a great feeling and my spirit was lifted after being there.

And for more pictures of the weekend… I’m quite proud that some came out looking nearly like a DSLR took them, or so I think!

standing at the end of diving board looking down into pool

I went to have some fun on the springy surface.

landing after a short jump on the diving board

They tried to get a shot of me in the air, but the timing just wasn’t right. I had a blast anyway!

decorations inside yoga studio

Artistic pieces sit by the doors that open out to the view over the hillside.

view from yoga studio, looking out over hills and valley

The view that we saw as we did yoga in the studio.

buddha statue sitting outside yoga studio

The statue that sits to the left of the yoga studio entrance.

fire pit with log seats

The fire pit situated right outside the yoga studio doors.

a sitting log full of holes

I wonder if the tree was shot at or got infected with bugs?

a side path leading up to the house

This pathway led up to one end of the house, where the kitchen is located.

orchard full of orange, lemon, and lime trees

Looking the other way down the path, you see more fruits that you could possibly eat!

lone pomegranate on tree

Hidden amongst the green, orange, and yellow is this little gem, just barely clinging on.

sunburst-looking green plant

These plants grew in a patch just outside the kitchen.

bird of paradise flower

I love the colors of the Bird of Paradise.

plant with spider-like legs

It kind of looks like those 8-prong head massagers.

closeup of orange

Take a look at that freshness!

closeup of lemon with little white flower visible

There’s something really fun about the dimpled texture of citrus fruits.

purple iris flower

What a beautiful shade of purple! Absolutely gorgeous.

a dog laying on brick area

Jack, one of the dogs with us for the weekend.

a dog laying on brick

Jazzy, the other dog hanging out with us.

outdoor bungalow/teahouses for guests to stay in

One of the bungalows/teahouses scattered around the property.

looking inside bungalow/teahouse to see bed and fan

Inside each were two single beds, a little desk, a fan, and heater.

hammock overlooking view of mountains in distance

A hammock was put at the edge of the hill, with a great view of the land below.

sun setting through haze

It was a hazy day and the sun began to sink slowly.

setting sun casting hills in red

It soon became a brilliantly beautiful sunset. I love the details of the rocks in the distance.

festive display in window of casa barranca tasting room

It was so cozy, warm, and welcoming.

people getting ready to taste some wines

Everyone squeezed in to the bar for their share of the wine being sampled.

line of wine bottles in a row for display

Many of these were tasted that night, as Casa Barranca generously shared their products.

square coasters made from colored paper

Check out these awesome coasters recycling paper into a great new use! I think I remember reading they were from Vietman or Thailand or something.

funky-shaped leaves

Along the trail path were these funky leaves, complete with curling tendrils.

fence made of wood pieces

The kind of fence you used to hand make with an axe and nails.

a house perched on top of a hill with great views

Now that house is situated in a place with views in nearly every angle!

green metal crane sculpture in alcove along trail

A random sculpture tucked away along the trail.

cute white half-Chihuahua

Such a pretty little puppy!

muddy paw print on black leggings

I was trying to capture how there was a perfect little paw print on her leggings, but the angle isn’t quite right.

hill after hill in the distance

So many layers of hills!

a clearing area on the hill, perfect for sheep

We seriously expected some sheep to be grazing here. I thought we were continuing over this hill, but thankfully we cut down the mountain before then.

view that shows part of the town of ojai

You can see part of downtown Ojai now.

tall pines lining either side of a driveway

Now that’s an imposing wall to have for your driveway.

large pile of avocados

Back inside and we are made some fresh guacamole! I learned that putting bananas and avocados together makes them ripen faster.

fresh-made bowl of guacamole

There’s nothing quite like freshly-made, is there?

lounge chairs on rooftop area

There was this cool rooftop patio complete with lounge chairs for resting in!

view of backyard from rooftop

The view of part of the backyard from the rooftop.

outdoor room with screens

You can sleep here and feel like you’re outdoors without the bugs!

wine grapes in winter

Lines of vines of wine grapes! That’s just too fun to say.

Jealous much?  😉

Dumpling dinner

laelene Posted in photo blog,Tags: , , , , , ,
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Each maker proudly showcasing his/her handicraft.

Each maker proudly showcasing his/her handicraft.

Oops, this one's leaking some meat!

Oops, this one's leaking some meat!

This wonton got a little scrunched.

This wonton got a little scrunched.

You can’t quite tell, but the wonton was very small and a strange sort of shape.  😛  Just as yummy though!

And to top it all off, we have cheesecake for dessert!

And to top it all off, we have cheesecake for dessert!

My first startup

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , ,
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I’m working on a project now that is something I’ve thought of before, but never considered doing seriously until now.  After speaking to some tried and true entrepreneurs, the one piece of advice that stood out was: just do it.   Yup, Nike was right – you just gotta go out and get started!   So that’s exactly what I’m doing on now, first producing some content to put up on the site that I’ll be launching within the first week of January.   I spent the majority of today working on the more technical issues of getting the site up and with the help of a friend, I’ve got a decent framework to work with.   It’ll start off simple, but I do hope the content is valuable to my target audience.

I’m excited for this fun distraction that I’m going to build into a great resource and fun reference.  I don’t want to give too much away while I’m still working on it, so just keep your eyes open in the new year, especially if you’re a Bruin!  In the mean time, if you or anyone you know is willing to help with writing content, doing some graphic design, or helping with the website, please do let me know!  I’ll need all the help I can get.  This will be my first “startup” (not in the sense of a company, but in the sense that I’m the one running the show based off of one of my ideas), so I’m sure there will be a lot to learn.  I’ll try to document what I can as I grow from the experience.  🙂

Carpet charge

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , ,
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Last week, the battery in my car key was dying and it chose to give out when I needed to unlock my car to get to a lecture.  Though I could open the car manually, it would set off the car alarm time and time again, which did me no good.  I tried to get in and just start my car, but it didn’t work and the engine wouldn’t react.  I called up Panda to try to figure out a solution and eventually decided to go back to my internship to see if the guys there had suggestions (or could possibly take me to a local shop to buy a battery).

I got a screwdriver to open up the casing and at least see what size the battery was.  One of the guys took it and decided he’d try something radical – he started to rub it vigorously on the carpet!  Trying to work on the static electricity generated to create a charge strong enough for it to work for just one more push, he went on for a few seconds, then quickly replaced the battery.  I pressed a button and the red light lit to indicate it was working, so he and the other intern started to yell at me to run to my car to unlock it.  Nervous and anticipatory, I ran out as fast as I could and cautiously pressed it when I felt close enough for it to work.

Miraculously, I heard the double-beeping that indicated my car was unlocked!  What a genius move!  I was really excited about it, since it was such a great application of the physical sciences!  It’s like when you take a potato to power something and it’s a really cool science experiment because it works and it’s so simple too.  In this day and age of technology, it’s great to see that there are still some less high-tech ways of solving problems.  It took a certain creativity to even consider the idea (which was borne of desperation).  As my tagline says, “because inspiration doesn’t wait,” after all.  Crazy, huh?  🙂

Engagements left and right

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , ,
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So many of our peers have gotten engaged recently!  There have been three couples since the summer, all of whom met working as Orientation Counselors.  That’s how Panda and I, as well as Opti and Doc met!  Funny how so many pairs have come from the Orientation Program staff.  I’m sure there will be many more to come.  There’s something about the whole Orientation thing that seems to really bring together staff.

Just wanted to share.  🙂

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