Minh’s Notes

Human-readable chicken scratch

Minh Nguyễn
May 2nd, 2005


Back to mundanity, part 1

You may have noticed that, until today, my blog hasn’t been updated for a week. Well, it’s not that uncommon. But this time, it’s because I was out of town. Brad should know; he took care of updating pX for me. Thanks, Brad!

My father and I spent a few days visiting the wonderful state of California for Stanford’s Admit Weekend. I kinda felt obligated to, because included with my acceptance letter back in December was a voucher to go there. But I was reluctant, because I had already visited Stanford over the summer, and Mr. Reuter warned us from the beginning not to miss too many days of school, because the quarter would be really hectic.

We went anyways. And it was well worth it. Read on for (more than just) the highlights…

Day 1: Thursday the 28th


Because my father wanted to save a few bucks, we decided to take a Comair flight up in Dayton, which would take us back to Cincinnati, where a Delta flight would take us to San Francisco. And the other way around.

For a discount. Because they made us occupy two seats that we didn’t need, they precluded two more customers from purchasing those seats and getting Delta even more money. You’d think that they’d think twice about offering such a deal. Nope.

So I woke up at four in the morning, rushed to Cox Dayton Int’l Airport and onto the tarmack (!), boarded the plane, rode it for a whopping ten minutes, landed, and finally ended up waiting at CVG for a few hours. At least I got to try Chick-fil-A’s breakfast combo, which was worlds better than McDonald’s. Looks like the apple “pies” are now the only reason I go to the double yellow arches.

Although Delta no longer serves TV dinners, even during its longest flights, they now offer some really great snacks. They gave me a large snack-pack, containing:

  • Pepperidge Farm wheat crackers
  • A cheese spread to go along with it
  • California raisins (how appropriate)
  • Oreos
  • A handy little moist towelette pack

Not bad for a company that borders on bankrupcy.

I was also pleased that when the airline isn’t using the in-flight TV screens for a boring movie or sitcom, they now use them to tell us map junkies where we are and how much time we have until we land. That really relieved me of a lot of stress for some reason.


I’ve always thought that CVG was a neat airport, with its elegant architecture. But SFO beats Cincinnati hands down, with a clean (albeit confusing) monorail system and integrated car rental building. That made our experience with SFO a lot more pleasant than our visit to LAX several years ago.

For anyone worried that I’ve devulged some top-secret national security information here, rest assured that I only remembered this stuff upon seeing the maps at SFO’s own website. I’m willing to take this information down, however, if need be, since I’m just putting this information here to keep it in mind for next time. So there’s my little disclaimer. Continue on…

Phở VVi~ Hòa

Our first stop was Phở Vỉ Hoa (which my parents style “Phở Vĩ Hòa”). It’s a very good Vietnamese phở restaurant in Los Altos, close to Stanford, though for some reason, I always end up ordering something non-phở, like mì xào gà (chicken chow mein).

And somehow they remembered us as the visitors from the cold land of Ohio.

Quality Inn

Somehow my father found a very high-quality Quality Inn (surprise!) in Mountain View. The location wasn’t so great: it was hard to find the street (a highway service road) on the map, and the surrounding neighborhood consisted of a pony keg, some old homes, and a gas station that closes at night. But the place itself was very clean, the breakfast was good (especially the orange juice), and it had a novel, underground parking garage. This is your standard hotel, except not.

One morning we happened to encounter a woman from Mt. Healthy, a teacher at McAuley, who came to Mountain View to attend her daughter’s bridal shower. After we had had a nice conversation with her, a man entered the breakfast room and chimed in that he too was from Ohio. Amazing.


Sometime in the afternoon on Thursday, we finally got around to checking into Stanford’s Admit Weekend program. It turns out that we’d already missed most of the activities for that day, including stuff I would’ve been interested in, like an information session about the Stanford computing environment.

When I originally RSVP’d, I told them that I wasn’t planning to stay in a dorm. But then, why was I even coming on the trip, if I couldn’t see what life was actually like there? So I e-mailed them about it later, asking them to reply if they could accomodate me. They never did e-mail me back. But apparently, I had been given a night’s stay at the ethnically-themed Casa Zapata dorm. (It’s named after the Mexican hero, not the shoe, as I later learned.)

As the dorm’s event organizers (HoHos) came into Tressider Union to pick us up, they started this wacky chant, something along the lines of:

Who is your daddy?
¡Ca-sa Za-pa-ta!

As I told Alex, a fellow Zapatan, we could “watch the whole campus roll their eyes at us.”

Breaking a little ice… or not

As usual, the HoHos tried to get us all to mingle and get acquainted with one another by playing some icebreakers with us. First, we formed a circle and told everyone our basic information: name, date, and interesting thing about ourself. My little tidbit: that I hail from a school where the mascot is now a big, blue Weeble with its tongue sticking out. That got a few laughs. In response to their questions about what our mascot used to be, I accidentally replied, “the Bomb.” Oops. At least they know now that St. X isn’t any ordinary prep school.

The next activity, well… try doing a human knot with 20 – count ’em, twenty – other people. Yeah, that didn’t turn out too well. But somehow we started swaying as a knot, and it turned into a massive human waltz.

Where’s the RoHo?

I don’t know, but this post is long enough as it is, and I haven’t even told you about all of Day One yet. So I’ll just leave it at this for now, and I might, just might, continue telling you all about my trip some other time.