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I just realized something about myself: I collect skills. If I were a demon from Charmed, I would be the one who collects others’ powers. Just being able to replicate others’ powers at will, without removing them from the original owners, would be good enough for me.

Getty Villa

Back in May I joined the Caltech Y on a trip to the Getty Villa near Malibu, CA. The Getty Villa is was inspired by the Villa of the Papyri, which was buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. Of course,  I looked up more information about the villa in Wikipedia.

The Villa of the Papyri, located in the ancient town of Herculaneum, belonged to Julius Caesar‘s father-in-law, Lucius Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus, and sat halfway up the slope of Mount Vesuvius. When Mt. Vesuvius erupted in AD 79, the villa, along with the rest of Herculaneum, was buried in ash. The remains of the villa were first excavated in the 18th century.

Since the Villa of the Papyri has not been fully excavated, the Getty Villa is partially based on other ancient Roman houses. True to its origins, the Getty Villa houses ancient Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiquities.

News of the Day

I like to procrastinate by browsing CNN, LA Times, BBC, Google News, and other news sites. Sometimes I find a headline, not always the most prominent, that interests me, and I use Google to dig up more information. I figured, why not do something with this research? So, here goes.

25-year-old LPGA golfer found dead

Erica Blasberg, 25, was found dead Monday morning in her home in Henderson, Nevada. An unknown person placed a 911 call. Her father stated that it looked like she had taken her own life, but the circumstances of her death were “very, very strange.”

Blasberg was a highly decorated collegiate golfer at the University of Arizona. After turning pro, her success has been mixed. She posted four top-10s in eight starts on the Duramed Futures Tour, but she never finished higher than 94th on the LPGA’s money list. However, she was successful in getting endorsements from Puma, Casio, and other companies.

It’s always sad when someone young, apparently healthy, and promising dies so suddenly. Suicide? Murder? For now we’ll just have to wait and see. At least one website is taking note a disgruntled fan who submitted questions through Blasberg’s website, but that’s just speculation.

Interesting fact: Blasberg was nicknamed “Skip” in college because she didn’t know how to skip.

I knew about Wikipedia in college, but I wish it had been as mature then as it is now. I was reviewing the article about bitwise operations, and the thought crossed my mind that I could have benefited from such a comprehensive resource when I was in school. When I was in college, that particular article didn’t exist. The first version was written a month after I graduated, and it was much less comprehensive.

In a month or so I’ll be back in school with much more Internet power at my fingertips. This time I won’t be a full-time student, though. I’ll still be working full-time, and I’ll be taking one class at a time online.

Live from Palm Springs

I’m here at the Renaissance Hotel in Palm Springs for a weekend of West Coast swing workshops, competitions, and of course, lots of dancing. A few hours ago I  watched the final of the Champions Strictly Swing. All the couples were awesome! Heading down for more dancing…

2009 in Review

There are 6 hours left in 2009. So how has this year been?

I’m still working at the same place. I’ve installed some new servers but am still having trouble porting all our software. I officially stopped doing the freelance project that I wasn’t really doing. I considered enrolling in the University of Redlands’ part-time MBA program but decided not to do it for now, although I’ve already been accepted. I pondered my life and came to some conclusions, but nothing definitive. I started learning economics and investing.

Now on to dancing: My ballroom dancing has improved. I did well in a competition for the first time at UCR’s competition and also at Caltech’s Dance of the Roses. My partner and I only placed in International Standard (we do both Standard and Latin), but I’ll aim for Latin next time.

In West Coast swing I continued to get last place, shared among 20-30 other dancers, at the Palm Springs conventions. However, I won second place with my partner at Soul n Blues, a local dance venue, now defunct, run by Doug Silton. It was not a large or accredited competition, but it was a start. I also managed to get one mark in the Jack and Jill at the High Desert Dance Classic.

I danced on stage twice. Technically, it was more than twice. I performed in the Ceroc Formation for the Caltech Dance Show. I performed in three shows plus a dress rehearsal. In the fall I danced a rumba with my partner on stage to attempt to recruit freshmen.

I’ve been getting a bit burned out with dancing. At a certain point my ballroom dancing probably won’t be able to progress without frequent lessons, which cost money, and at a certain point I’ll have to spend money on costumes. My financial situation is fine, but I just don’t like spending that much money. Competitively, my West Coast swing has not been progressing, and it costs money, too.

I continued doing tai chi, which I’ve been learning since 2003. For a while (2 year?) I haven’t felt motivated to practice tai chi regularly, but in the latter part of this year, I feel that my interest has been somewhat rekindled. I learned a Shaolin staff form. I also  refreshed my memory of two Shaolin forms, basically re-learned a third that I had either completely forgotten or never finished learning, and am in the process of learning another form.

I traveled with my parents to very scenic but little known locations in the West — South Coyote Buttes, the White Pocket, Fantasy Canyon among others. I also revisited Antelope Canyon, Zion National Park, Arches National Park, and Bryce Canyon National Park. Over the holidays I visited my parents in New Jersey, got stuck in snow,  played piano for the first time in forever, visited Longwood Gardens, and explored Shenandoah Caverns and Luray Caverns. The bacon and fried egg formations are sights to see!

I’ve seen some movies this year, but I don’t remember most of them. Over the holidays I watched Avatar 3D and Up in the Air. Both were good. If you see Avatar, watch it in 3D to get the most out of the awesome visuals. I also saw 2012, Up, and 9 this year. The day I saw 9 happened to be the day of the taping of a Lionel Ritchie tribute in the Pasadena Convention Hall right across from the movie theater.

Books i’ve read: Time Management for System Administrators, Mental Management, And Then the Roof Caved In, Twilight. I’m currently reading The Brothers Karamazov. I used to read many, many books, but until this year, for years I had hardly been reading any. I should get back into that.

Miscellaneous stuff: I’ve been cooking more, and I no longer take forever to make a simple dish. I tried out an Athenaeum membership.

Finally, tonight my web server started making a loud humming noise.  I don’t know how much longer it’ll last.

I just discovered that Google Maps now shows detailed maps of college campuses. Is this a new development?

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=California+Institute+of+Technology,+Pasadena,+CA+91106&sll=42.359543,-71.09519&sspn=0.004884,0.01354&ie=UTF8&split=0&hq=&hnear=California+Institute+of+Technology,+Pasadena,+Los+Angeles,+California+91106&ll=34.137065,-118.125435&spn=0.00547,0.01354&z=16

In other news, I’m currently on vacation. I’ll post more about it later, maybe even with a Google map.