25% Completionist

I think it goes without saying that it has been an eventful year (both academically and annually). As a student, our years are often broken into segments of 9 months—those which are summer and those which are not. Basically, school is a long series of summer and not summer. Regardless of the layout, I think a quick trip down memory lane is required—at least so I know I did not sit at my computer the whole year.

This year began at a blistering heat of 115 degrees, also known as the “Tempe Norm.” Heat bounced off the slow melting concrete and waved past my ever so slightly churning stomach. The heat did not stop me from climbing the historic A Mountain and making my literal mark on ASU. As a near fetus perceived Freshmen, I once again peered into my new city of a home. It was hot and crowded, but I loved it.

It’s hard to think that just a year ago I was in high school dreading my not so known future. The murky colored future quickly became maroon and gold as I learned to live in this hot and moving city. Whilst learning to once again step to the sound of academics, I was lucky enough to be joined by a group of quirky-geek-bound Computer Science majors interested in nerding out with me. They’re alright. They’re also the closest thing I have to a Arizona family.

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The geek squad
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UCSB tour with the haxors

 

 

 

 

Supported by my strange friends, I was able to join my very first research lab. It was challenging, destroying, intimidating, inspiring, accepting, and enjoyable—all at the same time. I’m fortunate enough to be able to work in a place I love everyday. I really need to write about it… The research led me to find the pwndevils, the hacking team I compete in. Never in my life have I found a smarter group of computer scientist.

A disguised lumber jack

As the year moved forward, I was fortunate enough to have my favorite person in the entire world visit me. Emma and I had a great time getting fat at a pseudo Hawaiian barbecue near my dorm—yes I said dorm, its pretty nice. Emma got disguised in her ASU gear and supported the Sun Devils at our crazy ASU v. U of A football game. We won. It was spectacular.

As the temperature cooled in Tempe, it froze in Flagstaff and Colorado. I was able to spend time with my family in Hawaii. I was able to spend an awesome Winter with my Dad and then my Bae. It was truly amazing to reconnect with the people I loved.

Less fetus couple on snow honeymoon

With a reinitialized fire for research, I was able to take a trip to Santa Barbra with my research lab. I hosted my first Capture the Flag hacking competition, iCTF. It was interesting to connect with other hackers around the world. I’ll post about it. I was honored to represent ASU internationally through the Web hacking community.

Fast forwarding to March, I turned 19 and was able to have Emma and the nerd squad take me out to dinner. It was an awesome Korean BBQ place called Gen. It was amazing as usual. I then spent the next month after march busting my butt to somehow finish all my finals projects and wrap up the year with a good ole’ fashion four-o. ANNNNND we are here, the present.

I learned a lot this year about computer science, but even more about myself. Similar to this post, the year felt like it flew by in the span of a few seconds. Life in school passes by faster than Christmas morning—one moment you’re staring at every gift you’ve been presented; then suddenly you the mystery and the morning is over. It seems like it is always better to imagine what’s in store, then to actually find it.

An Asian version of Zion

I regret not posting more this year, but I hope to make up for it in the next few days, as I spam your emails with updates. As always, thanks for reading, and subscribe below if you want to fuel my non-existent writing career.

I would also love to hear how you’re life is going, just hit me up with a comment. Hope all is well.

 

Peace family

-Zion

Arizona Rain

I didn’t know it rained in Arizona. The desert-dried city of Tempe never passed me as a town of slow moving, still-falling rain. The rain has its way in the city: the cars move a little slower, the people are a little quieter, and the building finally sit still. The city is darkened, but there is a hidden light.

I love the rain. I sit at my bedroom window and enjoy the past. I think about the life I have lived in Hawaii and the life I am living now. From windowsill, it all seems interconnected. I watch as the rain drips down on the people whom find the day gloomy, but I really think some happiness can be found in the still.

I think we could all use a moment of stillness. When the rain falls, I like to think about the moving parts of my life—the future—because the rain gives me a chance to be present. Often, I, and most college students, are dead set of the outcomes of the small things in our lives. The campus moves quickly, and we forget what is behind and in front, or at least I do.

Understanding why I am here and where I am going is something I struggle with now-a-days. I constantly move day-to-day just trying to make it through my next assignment. It’s in the little moments of my day, like right now, where I can truly sit and understand how I got here. I theorize on the improbable future I will have as an awesome super hero hacker, and I picture the happy moments I’ve had with my family.

The rain takes me back to a chilled room in my childhood. I remember the blue cotton sheets, furry and soft, of my grandmothers bed. I would lay in the king sized, conformed bed and listen to the daily Jazz my grandmother played. The girl from Ipanema goes walking, and well, I sit on my butt and watch the drizzling clouds. The sky is baby blue-damp tempered and cool. Not a single sound can be heard by the Jazz. The world is still.

I envision my future home. It sits on the side of a hill, similar to my Kona home, and I watch the rain drizzle in the same cooler fashion. Dave Brubeck plays, and I take five. The world is again still. My past, present, and future interconnect in a single moment. The rain helps me connect the pieces.

The rain really is beautiful. I know it may not seem like that now, but taking a step back from it all can open your eyes to a happier life. The rain is not around often in Arizona, nor is it in life. The rain is rare, so enjoys its clarity in stillness. I know I do.

Talk to you soon family.

-Zion

Lost Time

This semester I’ve learned that there really is such little time in a day. I’m stuck in an endless speed-walk, board-dash, class-rush of a loop. I seem to never have time to catchup on the back work that seems to prelude my new writings that I would like to go after like Doug’s Apple Conundrum, The Research Lab, and Fuzzing to Victory (hacking story). I hope to post these in the following days, but I think a blog post for lost time is due; let’s take it back to Winter break.

A messy familyDying sister

For winter break I got to spend two weeks back on the Big Island in Kainaliu, where I was able to do the writing about the town revival—if you haven’t read it, then go read it; it was awesome. We had a beautiful Christmas-eve dinner with the entire family: the goofy aunts, the quite uncles, the annoying sisters, the laughing grandma, and the hungry dog—a.k.a. the Basque family. We even had a beautiful Christmas tree this year, it was fake as usual. Emma decorated the beautiful beast you see below, and I’m not talking about the old lady!

I told her to smile for candyEmma did this

It was a night to bask in for years to come. I did not cook anything special for Christmas because I burn everything I touch, but Christmas morning was another story. This year I felt the need to impress my family with the new need of Adulthood (I’m 18 if you can’t tell) flexing. I went all out this year. I killed the present game. I destroyed expectations. I did not have enough money to buy real things, so I just built them, ha. For grandmother dearest, a bluetooth speaker set salvaged from old speakers in the house and a $15.00 bluetooth transceiver. For mother craziest, a salvaged camera wireless system for security, because she and I are paranoid. Last but not least, for sister annoyingiest, a brand spankin new MacBook Pro that I built from other Macs over the course of two months. It was ugly but beautiful.

Doggo is good boiSister pleased

To keep it simple, I enjoyed every moment I got to spend with my family this Christmas, and I hope you did too. Hawaii will always hold a favorite place in my heart to host the holidays, but the day after Christmas I found myself in an even cooler state, literally.

Somebody toucha my spaget!The mountains of mordor

My father and I went on our annual Snowboard trip this year, and it was epic as usual. We ventured the majority of this trip by car, but we did spend some time flying to Albuquerque from Hawaii. We drove up to Colorado where we met some of our distant relatives for Snowboarding. We trashed those slopes. We ripped the snow off the mountain. We literally rolled down the mountain one by one in a family collision of messiness. It was the best. My father, the less ‘cautious’ of us two, concluded this trip with an ungodly snowboardpalooza of tree runs—mountain side snowboard trails of only trees. I got a really cool GoPro video, I still have no idea where I’m posting them…Maybe here!

Sometimes I get lucky with landscapesOr is it really just skill?

I got really cool photos on this trip, but even better experiences with my family. Enjoying family time is so important. Gosh. Well. Now that we are all caught up again, hopefully I can keep up with myself and pump out some awesome posts this weekend about stuff I love. Let me know how your winter break went, I get lonely when I write these. If your reading this Doug, I don’t mean it.

Peace out family, thats what I’m calling all you readers from now on, until next time.

-Zion