YVR -> SFO (3)

"Are you the caravan crew?"

Tessa-with-a-red-minivan from Oakland approached us, wanting to join. News travelled fast, and I guess we already had a name. Some people who were originally interested had backed out (one guy driving a pickup truck while towin another pickup), and we were the three left. Within a few minutes, we had advice from locals and were on our way for another adventure.

We somehow lost Tessa after the first gas station, where we got the best route to I-5 north. I was in lead with Noah in tow -- he drove slower because he lost his wallet earlier and was being careful. At Grants Pass, we filled at the Arco (touted the "cheapest gas around" by a Redding local who frequents the area) and had a Tessa sighting before she disappeared again.

Westward ho along the 199! Rain was light, but it was a small road (hardly a highway) through tiny antique towns. I was treated to sights of round red trucks carrying (wet) hay, old rusted water heaters in unkept yards, houses built decades before I was born, and gas stations charging arms-and-legs over the price we got.

Through Smith National Park, the road began a steep and steady descent, winding its serpentine way for another 25 miles before opening up to 101-S and arriving at Crescent City. Noah and I felt comfortable with the rest of the drive home (me to SF, him to LA) and we parted ways here.

redwoods left and rightI continued my drive through hundreds of miles while rains came down, varying from light drizzles to torrential rainstorms. Then came Redwood National Park -- the US-101 is also known as Redwood Highway, aptly named for the plentiful redwood trees lining the highway on either side. It's actually quite a beautiful drive when you're not in a rush to get home and when it's not raining. (Attempts to snap photos while hurtling down the highway were rather feeble.)

My progress was helped by a few speeders whom I tagged behind -- I wasn't bold enough to take the lead while speeding, knowing the constant threat of "Radar Enforced by Aircraft". (Highway patrols were rumoured to enjoy speeding tickets as extra income to their towns.)

all i could see while drivingAt times, the rains plus the sprays from cars ahead rendered my vision useless! The rain came down so hard that I had blind moments where I feared for my safety! Left. Straight. Left again. Right. Brake. I could only depend on lights from the vehicles immediately ahead to be my eyes. And my Nokia indicated that these areas provided "No service" anywhere from AT&T -- any breakdown meant sure misery.

The 101 wound itself through downtown cores of several small cities, an unwelcome "scenic route" thrust upon me with still hundreds of miles to go. Cellular service was spotty as I updated family on my whereabouts.

"Still X miles from San Francisco. Yes, everything is fine. Tell Mom I have enough food. Hello? You're breaking up. Whoa, it's raining really hard now -- I have to concentrate on driving. I'll call later."

At 6:00pm, I had escaped the treacherous mountainous terrain and unfamiliar towns: Sonoma County welcomed me by emptying clouds its on me (a common theme for today). Then I gassed up in Petaluma and was battling rough traffic there. (The gas tank probably could have lasted another 45 miles, but my bladder wouldn't.) I'd never been so happy to see Novato before!

By 8:30pm, I was just happy to be home. My bags poured onto the livingroom floor, and a nice hot shower was the welcome I was looking forward to. The news showed that they had just re-opened the highway at 11pm Monday night. Had I stayed in Ashland, I would only now be braving the night drive through the Siskiyou Pass.

I think I'll avoid driving for a while.

YVR -> SFO (2)

stranded travellers sleep on itSo there I was, stranded in Ashland, Oregon, camping in the South Oregon University wrestling room with my tracksuit, sweater, and ski jacket on, backpack serving as a pillow. Around 3am, I woke up to see the room had filled with sleepers! A Red Cross Disaster Relief team was handing out blankets now -- I got one and returned to my slumber.

7am, I awoke. Greyhound buses had delivered their passengers here through the night, and I surveyed the now-hundreds of people sleeping in the rooms, hallways, everywhere. It was the scene of an ER during a natural disaster, but I liken it more to a refugee camp. Cookies and biscuits, breads and cakes, fruits, drinks were provided to tame the grumbling stomachs of wary travellers. (I filled my bottles with juice and stocked my car. You never know.) Most remained calm (though unhappy), but a few were visibly worried about getting to their destinations on schedule (or asap). Disaster Relief volunteers answered questions and put people to ease, while SWAT team members stood by, and local media made their stories.

A man in a red jacket addressed us. News. The highway was closed from Redding, CA, up to the Oregon border; all 150 miles of it, and probably for another 24 hours. Some 300 cars were still stuck on the highway, and snowmobiles shuttled food, medical, and emergency supplies in while carrying persons out.

It meant possibly another night in this shelter, and I put my blanket in my car to keep it until night while making note to claim one of the cots in the larger room for a more comfortable sleep. I chatted with relief team volunteer Esther to pass some time, but eventually decided to make alternate plans of escape. Not out of panic -- there's no point to panicking in a situation like that. I just had to take what was dealt and deal with it; do what you gotta do.

A variety of options began to emerge. Greyhound would re-route one of its buses originally for Medford to come down and pick some passengers up and head back north. Some people were considering flying out of Medford to wherever they needed to get to. Some wanted to go back to Seattle. One guy didn't know how he would continue his journey to Texas. A Mongolian foreign student was on her cell phone with her host family in San Francisco, trying to figure out what to do, particularly since her parents were flying into SFO at 9am the next day.

plotting an escape routeOn my map, I found Highway 199, which connects Grants Pass, OR, to Crescent City, CA, on the coast -- a detour of roughly 125 miles. Then I'd take the US-101 down from there. I figured it was a 10-hour drive, taking into account the weather and traffic conditions. Noah, a young organic foods entrepreneur from the Los Angeles area (who bears a striking resemblance to Noah Wyle of ER fame), was considering the same plan with his Camry wagon.

Rumours were that the I-5 could be opened by 4pm; another rumour whispered it might be open by noon. But the only real news was the 24 hours. Even if they were true, it would take time before cars could start out on the I-5 again, and it would certainly be slow progress (in chains) for the next 150 miles. I guessed it would take us twelve hours, starting from who-knows-when.

10 hours of driving beats 3-to-24 hours of waiting and then 12 hours of driving. And I would rather be driving than doing nothing and waiting around. Teamed up, we began to approach others to see if anyone wanted to form an impromptu caravan to travel together.

YVR -> SFO (1)

"How was your drive down?"
"Nasty. I'll tell you about it some time."

I left Vancouver at 9:30am, after repeatedly resisting my mom from overpacking me with food. ("Mom, I'm only on the road for 24 hours. I have a lot of food!") A 20-minute wait at the border and I was in Washington state -- I was also in very rainy weather, with brief splashes (minutes at a time) of crazily heavy snow.

The varying rains in Seattle and Portland came and went (with a stop at Flying Pie) and I had one last fill-up in Eugene before my next planned stop in Redding. Grants Pass treated me to terrible rain with pockets of snowfall, though traffic seemed not to be bothered by these and kept at a good clip.

7:45pm. I was some distance from Medford. Flashing yellow letters, blurred by rains on my windshield, shone through: "Chains Required. 20 Miles Ahead." I had hoped to avoid it, but I pulled over with the oceans of other vehicles to latch my tire chains on.

snow piles up, waiting for chain inspectionWind. Strong, freezing winds. And rain, the kind that you swear is just mocking you and your situation. It was a miserable half an hour before my chains were safely on my rear tires and my fingers were regaining feeling in the warmth of my car again.

And then it was the line-up to the chain inspection, while our vehicles were facing the preludes of a west coast storm. Traffic was slow ... all stop (15 minutes) and go (15 seconds). News radio reported a 3-mile backup for inspection. Most of us had the heat on full blast while moving, and shut our cars off to conserve gas when waiting. Strangely, my chains weren't giving much traction and I subtly slipped and slid my way to the inspection officer around 10:30pm.

"The I-5 is closed; you'll have to turn around. There is a shelter being set up at the university gym and you can stay there tonight. Just follow these other cars. And your chains are on the wrong tires."

D'oh (freeway closure). And d'oh (chains).

I picked up a gallon of water (just in case) from the 7-11 and finally found the gym. I half-put my chains on the right tires and headed in to the wrestling room where a handful of people were already sleeping. I made that my bed for the night and fell asleep by midnight.

Clearly, I would not make it into work by Monday morning.

It's snowing in Vancouver! It started off modestly, but now is coming down in beautifully large flakes! (It was snowing yesterday too, for a bit, but I didn't have my camera with me and forgot to blog about it. Yesterday was the first time my ABS kicked in because of snow!) Now my concern is the drive home -- Oregon requires "carrying chains", though hasn't required using them yet.

Free to Move

I always feel paralyzed whenever I'm back in Vancouver. I have no mobile phone, my full contact list is in Outlook at home (limited info sync'd to my PDA), and no car. This year, Vancouver feels more like home because I have my own car (that I'm familiar with) to boot around in. But I have to figure out how to have a temporary mobile phone while in town, because it feels like my lifeline is gone!

Preparations are under way for the trip back home, armed with all my gifts, some rewards from fruitful Boxing Day shopping efforts, and a shiny new Canadian passport. I depart early tomorrow morning and hope to arrive early Monday morning.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Uppercut Apparel

I'm customer number six in their books, but only one of many many loyal fans of their lines of clothing. Without a doubt, Uppercut Apparel Products are going to sweep the world -- it's fashion and form, but so much useful function built into the clothing that you'll wonder how you ever did without it! Imagine having pants without pockets -- you'd never go back to that again -- and Uppercut has taken utility to the next level. I can't wait for their next seasons' and years' lineups!

Sleigh Ride

I just discovered that my Christmas spirit lives in three places.

It lives in the song "Sleigh Ride". Dunno why, but it always puts me in a good mood whenever I hear that song ... so it's my ringtone now. The song is just so upbeat and happy; my favourite version of it is sung by Billy Gilman and Charlotte Church.

It lives in the act of wrapping gifts and writing cards. Once I get into the wrapping and presentation aspects, I get on a roll and I just can't wait until ... (next point)

It lives in the giving of those gifts to their recipients and the feeling that I've presented something they could appreciate.

It's a bummer that I've been rather bah-humbug about Christmas these past years. I haven't done any/many cards and most of my gifts I'm giving this year will be in the form of gift certs and buying dinner. Oh well, tough luck for them. Bah humbug.

In a few hours, I start my long roadtrip home. Haven't slept much in past nights trying to maintain my routine while preparing for this trek, but I think I'm in good shape now. Just need to wrap a few things up at work, and then I'm homefree. (And I even showed up to work in trackpants and runners today, haha.)

Dress Down? Pay Up.

So here's what I found at the mall recently. Dress shirts start at $30, but T-shirts are already $20, and casual sweaters $30. Then you have jeans at $50, while slacks start around $40. What I concluded? Dressing up can actually be cheaper than dressing casual in today's styling. And dressing down doesn't mean dressing crappy (or cheap).

This was a topic asked of me by a long-time friend. "Why would a person be chatting with his buddy on his cellphone while proceeding to wipe his ass after doing #2??" I had to laugh.

At work, there are employees who walk around talking on their (personal) cell phones outside and inside the building. The conversation follows them everywhere: often times, I'll hear them yapping away quietly, while sittin' in their stall of stink. Why, why, why do people do that? Can a conversation be that interesting that you'd want to take it with you to the toilet? And do they honestly think people can't hear the echoic acoustics of their porcelain environment? And then the dead giveaway: the flush!

I just don't get it.

Weather reports have been saying that it would snow hard at Tahoe this evening, and we had concerns that we might get snowed in on our way back. Turns out they were about 9 hours ahead of schedule -- I drove home from M's in pouring rain with parts of the highways flooded. My car's ASR light (primitive traction control) came on 7 times during the 45 minutes, but everything was fine (and in control). Some Californians were barely crawling on the highway; poor people don't know how to handle it.

On another note, I had practice putting tire cables on an SUV this morning at 7am, and taking them off at 5pm. Good fun. Funny, though, that my first such experience was after I moved from Canada to California.

Nice to see that Whistler-Blackcomb gets a 1-2 finish, and takes almost a third of the first 17 from this list of top 50 ski resorts in North America. Well, no such luck for me -- Tahoe tomorrow instead.

If you and your spouse were pregnant and ready to have the child, but also knew that the child would only live to be 10 before some genetic illness would take his/her life, would you still have him/her?

Snowboard Colourway

What colour scheme should I pick for my new snowboarding gear and clothes? I have a red toque, so it would be cool to match that (all red). I bought a red Nautica jacket for $40, but I can still return it for grey or blue. I was really hoping for the standard bold Nautica-type yellow, but it doesn't come in this jacket. D'oh.

I really want a yellow-black or yellow-blue scheme, maybe even yellow-grey like these etnies shoes!

And yet, most of the nice boards are blue schemes! What should I do? Does the board have to match the clothes? I mean, the clothes (jacket and bottom) should match each other. Does that extend to the board?

Cool! My 2002 GTI is still worth $16,235, according to Kelley Blue Book pricing. Hope the value holds (that is, doesn't drop like crazy) for another 11 months or so.

So my boss now officially requires me to be at work at 9am. Never mind that I'm at work until 8pm (sometimes later) when I come in later. Never mind that. 9am, period. Well, fine, then I'm leaving at 5:30pm or 6:00pm. This is corporate war -- they simply don't pay me enough to stay longer.

"Now, I need to officially ask you to get to the office no later than 9 am, a quite reasonable time to start working. For your information, it is both people in and outside StupidCompany Inc. asking for this to be done as they need things from our Department."

I should note that by "our Department", they mean me, because I'm the only guy here in "our Department". So obviously, it's all fielded by yours truly. And then he has the gall to say that if i finish my work early, he has no problem with me leaving early. Knowing full well, of course, that there is no end to the work of two or three roles being done by me. Like saying that magically makes him a good guy.

On another note, I'd like to say hi to everyone as the newest member of the 9-to-5-Job Club. I joined this morning.

HR at StupidCompany, Inc.

I work for a company where most people have a stick up their ass. It's all about work, and none about play -- people come to this building to do their job, and leave. In general, people do not hang out with one another; we're not friends, we're coworkers. That line is very clear, and there are (in most cases) no intentions to cross it.

We have no HR department -- in fact, the formal HR roles are handled by Finance, which in my opinion, are the polar opposites in terms of prime directives. Somehow, as a (the) "marketing guy", the onus falls on me to organize events for the company. Oftentimes, these efforts are met with lackluster enthusiasm. More often than not, those efforts aren't appreciated, and things are taken too seriously. Sometimes I feel like I work for a complaints department, rather than marketing (and project management, and events, and finance admin, and-and-and). Well, sue me for wanting work to be a little fun! Sometimes I just want to have a good time and have some events that make work worth looking forward to!

One response to a general comment was, "Well, that's what we do here: we work." My question to that was, "Is that the kind of work environment I want?"

This is bullsh!t. Absolute bullsh!t. Ho ho mf'ing ho to the holiday spirit in this zombie joint.

Save It To Write Your Name On

So you're washing your rice. You fill the rice pot with water, and scrub the rice around until the water's murky, and pour it out, using your hand has a sieve. There you are, shaking your hand back into the pot, trying to save every last grain while sending the water out.

I'm not trying to encourage waste, but doesn't it seem like a lot of work for little benefit? It takes a lot of time to save those last two or three grains, that won't even amount to a bite's worth of cooked rice! What's more, your hand as a sieve slows outward water flow, making the process take even longer! Is it worth it?

Just read that Sony is coming out with an iPod-like video player! Neato!

Keep In Touch

Last year should have seen a high school reunion with the graduates of my year. But no one had stepped forward to arrange the event; some (like I) were out of town, some were out of touch, and some simply didn't care enough. I freely admit that I also fall into the last category.

I have always seen reunions as a checkpoint where we can all return and compare who's gotten further in life. More often than not, the "further" is based on average/standard paths for people: career. And there's always the fear that one would be the person who progressed the least, was the last. Movies seem to reinforce that fear / expectation -- protagonists never seem to be thrilled to attend their reunion.

But the way I see it, I already keep in touch with most of the people I want to keep in touch with. I don't need an excuse to meet with 270 people (plus guests) that I barely knew back then, let alone now, to compare where we are today. Who's a doctor? Who got what award? Who's driving what, and worth how much? I don't need that. I can be depressed all on my own, without having to explain that life isn't about the career alone.

What I do need is more reunions with the maybe 40 people (plus guests) that I really care for and love, whom I know right now but live too far away from. These are the people whom I feel close to, and truly want to know how they're doing.

We woke up at 4:00am on Friday (day after Thanksgiving), out the door by 5:00am, and back home by 8:30pm. We hit Sugar Bowl at Tahoe, when all the rest of the Bay Area was busy shuffling through malls in the same spirit as Canadians fever on Boxing Day. Sure, we missed some great deals, but they missed a nice day on the slopes! They also missed the first public appearance of my cooltobecanadian toque.

We got 11 runs in, which was pretty good, without any major wipeouts! But I need new equipment -- my board is too soft and slows me down. Flow bindings and DC Shoes boots would be a nice addition, but I really don't want to spend much on it at all -- hopefully I'll get everything at deep discount somehow.

Imagine the fabulous traditional Thanksgiving dinner that we all know and love from TV and movies. Extended families coming together to enjoy a feast fit for kings, bringing spouses and children with them to share in this day of thanks, as has been customary in the family for generations. A beautiful turkey presented at the table, alongside mashed potatoes, green beans, moist and fulfilling stuffing, and a lovely glass of wine. "Oh, could you please pass the mashed potatoes? Thank you. And how is your lovely family doing? Wonderful! How fabulous!"

Mine wasn't quite like that.

20 people crammed around the kitchen going haven't-eaten-all-day-buffet-style. Kids alternating between eating, climbing the antique furniture, and playing with the dog. On the table lay homemade foods (mashed potatoes, macaroni casserole, rice) and some store-bought goodies too (turkey, honey-glazed ham, potato salad, stuffing, creamed spinach, pasta salad, coleslaw, pumpkin pie, fresh lumpia, beverages, gravy, ...). Most of us sat in the dining room with the fine silver and the plates that are only brought out for special occassions; the two parents sat in the kitchen by themselves because there were no more seats left (despite many offers to give some up).

And yet, it ranks amongst the funnest Thanksgiving dinners I've ever had.

I'm home again. Tired. Will blog tomorrow about recent thoughts.

To people who read my blog and know M in person: M doesn't know about my blog. But I should explain. There are reasons.

1. If she read my blog, I would run out of things to say and share with her.

2. There are issues I open for discussion with everyone, and some of them involve her, or are issues I don't want her to get involved with.

That's why. Thanks for understanding.


My CEO just got a hummer. He's just glowing, and gloating about it too.

Oh, I mean a Hummer H2.

I have a prescription-happy doctor. The conversations generally went like this:

"I have experiencing [this] lately, and wondered if there's something I can do about it?"
"Sure, I can get you some [that] for it."
[scribble scribble, and a new prescription is born]

I went in for a physical exam, and a checkup on my cold. I left with four prescriptions, and a referral to an allergist and pulmonary specialist. (I only used one prescription; I don't really need the others.)

I dreamt about hEr again last night. This time, we had spent an enjoyable day together and it seemed as if things past had been forgotten and forgiven. sHe extended an invitation that I could "be with hEr for a while", and it made me happy that perhaps there was still some hope.

But I woke up more confused than ever, in perhaps more of a predicament than I had thought I was in. It could have spawned from Friday night, where I went with M to a place that I heard sHe frequents. I spent that evening trying to enjoy my time there, while always keeping an eye out to see if she was around.

Maybe this is a more nagging issue in my head than I had given credit for, growing more and more into an internal struggle. I'm messed up. I may have to take action soon.

WLNP (wireless local number portability) happened today in select metro areas -- it basically lets you switch cellphone carriers (and from landline to cellphone) and still keep your same number.

It's been a big fight until now (carriers not wanting this added support cost which can only increase subscriber churn in an already fiercely competitive business), but it's going to happen anyway. T-Mobile is the only carrier so far to have agreements with the others (AT&T Wireless, Cingular, Sprint, Verizon Wireless) to port numbers easily, showing that they are well prepared for today.

How do we get on that? The CTIA has created www.EasyPorting.com with Verizon Wireless, to educate consumers on how to port. There's also a site called WireFly started only recently (in response to the pending WLNP movement), which will compare plans from multiple carriers based on your usage. (CellMania did this two or three years ago, but doesn't seem to have it anymore.)

But what to do with your old cellphone? (Phones for one carrier will generally not work for another, even if they're both GSM technology.) RMS Communications lets consumers sell their phones at CellForCash, while Reliable Communication has options for selling or recycling or donating, at keepyourphonenumber.com.

Here are some articles for more info. Wireless Wars: Who Wins?, Wireless carriers answer call for number swaps.

I will probably wait a few weeks for them to sort out the number transfer process (and bugs) and then make a pointed call to AT&T Wireless to have them make me an offer I can't refuse. Yay!

Stoned at the Bar

I don't know why, but I sometimes enjoy watching the progress bar move when my computer is busy doing something -- installing software, stitching my images together, exporting an album, downloading mail. Sometimes I sit there and watch it go, even if process is 5 minutes, and I know I could be doing a lot better things with those minutes.

I just like watching it move along, getting subtasks done in its predetermined order, and reporting to be immediately when things are complete. Or maybe it's that I want to read each step as it goes, so I can understand what it's doing to get what I want done done. Not that it matters -- it only matters that it's done.

Reason being what it may, that little partially-coloured digital bar, changing ever-so-slowly, still mesmerizes me. It takes away minutes that I can never get back, and yet, I still sit there watching it.

For those of you with a morbid fascination. I'm going to change all my life insurance policies to end coverage after September 21, 2059.

This (Friday) morning, I had an irate customer to deal with on the phone.

Backgrounder. In this project, one of the portions is subcontracted to company U, which we (C) oversee for our customer (P). We've done several of these projects for P before, and this time, U told us they couldn't work on the new project because P had some other outstanding bills with them. (P also works directly with U in some other projects that we don't handle for them.) So I contacted P about this and asked them to sort it out quickly. In the meantime, I had our accounting people pre-pay a cheque to U for the new project in order not to delay it any more. I even hand-delivered the cheque to the right U personnel!

At that time, P looked into it and found that it was actually OUR bill (previous work done by U for P's project with us), but incorrectly invoiced to P. We should have gotten that bill, not P, but we never did, so we never paid it; P didn't recognize the charges as theirs, so they never paid it either. Mistake on U's part, confusion all around. In any case, I paid the cheque and had our accounting issue another one to pay the wrongly billed one. All done last week.

The Call. P (M and his manager A) call me up, all pissy about how their project was being held up because of our accounting mistake. My first question was, "No, this was cleared up last week. When did you hear this?" M told me he just talked to U staff yesterday. I briefly explained what I did to fix the problem. A was still very angry and demanded to know what was going on. They actually got our U contact on the phone -- she confirmed everything I said, and actually denied M's claim that he talked to her yesterday (which he changed to "this week".)

"M, I didn't speak with you this week at all. I spoke with you last week when I told you that." Then a little awkward silence on the P end of the line. Haha, I wish I could hear what A was thinking about M at that point.

U gets off the horn, and then M & A ask me why I didn't dig into the outstanding bill more (I suppose in some attempt to stay mad at me). I said, "It's a bill between U and you; I will not and CANNOT request such information! That's not mine to look into! I didn't do it then, and I won't do it in the future unless you expressly authorize me to see that confidential info." A calmed down, saw the reasoning, and agreed with me, but minion M was still irate, possibly because he was trying to show off in front of A (without any legs to stand on).

Conclusion. It ended okay by me. I had fixed the problem last week, and now it was just up to U to carry through the contracted work. And as far as I was concerned, P could shut the fvck up and wait. We'll see.

Some customers just need to chill. Especially before calling me. Because I won't always be so patient and understanding -- one day, I'll lose it.

It was that time of year again -- auto insurance renewal -- and I was facing yet another hike from StateFarm Insurance. Enough was enough, so I did some shopping around over the past three weeks.

After some recommendations -- thanks to VA, DR, ST, RK -- lots of internet quotes and phone calls, I got the following comparisons:

$949 = Geico
$834 = StateFarm
$786 = AllState
$620 = 21st Century
$593 = AAA
$526 = Mercury Insurance (through AIS broker)

After much deliberation between 21st Century and AAA, I decided to go with the latter. Chalk up the renters (homeowners) insurance on that, and I came to a grand total of $1311 for the year. And it's pretty much full coverage. Here's to me and saving $525+ a year with just a few hours' work!


What's cheating? What is the "universal" definition of cheating? Or is there one?

I mean, is it solely dependent on physical intimacy? So is holding hands cheating? Hugging? Kissing? How about phone sex and online sex, or emails of flirty nature? Nothing physical about it there, but does that mean it's not cheating?

The other extreme is that it's really dependent upon emotions, but that doesn't work perfectly either, because it means one would accept the "Honey, it was just raw animal sex!" excuse as justified. Even more complicated is that two people may be in a relationship together and have rather different views on what does and doesn't count as cheating.

I always figured it this way: if you're doing something that you have to hide, or that you know the other person would not like, that's more or less cheating. But then, there's the chance that you're dating a guy who literally doesn't want you to even talk to other guys. So maybe this is really a definition of cheating in this relationship, and maybe (if it seems to schackled) you need to be out of it.

[shrug] I dunno.

Clean up your room! Fold your clothes! And I don't want to hear any excuses! (Thanks to CY for this.) The only problem is that you have that extra flap underneath, which makes it harder to pick up and move around without messing the folding. Oh well.

Me Against The World

You ever get the feeling that the world just wants to sh!t on you? I just put my laundry in the dryer (at the apartment laundry facility) last night and stepped out to the car. I heard a huge splat behind me and a slight tickle on the back of my head. I turned around, and on the ground were two white splatters. I looked up the tree behind me, and could find no winged culprit.

Therefore, with the evidence presented, I could only conclude that some diety out there is just having a giggle with his/her latest prank on me.

A geek question to help a friend out. My friend C is currently on-site at a client company, and from their computers there, he can't surf outside of "www.clientcompany.com". He'd like to know how he can bypass that (without having to know the IT people). Of course, I'm assuming that he wants to know so that he can visit his blog more often. Help?

The dullest blog is back for another season, after a long hiatus. Find it to the right in my links section.

In just two hours, C will become a kept man. Congratulations to him!

In my book of life, there's no excuse for cheating. None at all. I just don't see how any kind of justification for cheating could be made. I think I've summed it up pretty well here.

- Even if he/she has not been treating you properly, you have a way out: breaking up. Nobody is really forced to stay in a relationship. Even economic reasons do not stand up to this.

- If you meet someone and are suddenly overcome with serious temptation, so much so that you could forget you are in a committed relationship already, then you should have taken that "way out" a long time ago. You should not have delayed it until now that opened the possibility of you cheating.

- If you entered a committed relationship, you should have stopped all other dating at that time. If you hadn't, you shouldn't have started the commitment in the first place.

- At no time during your life should you treat a partner with such disrespect as a human being. And certainly, hiding it does you no good. Karma upon you.

No, this did not happen to me. Something that happened near me had spawned this train of thought.

Ah, steamed milk with almond shot from Starbucks. It's been a while since I've enjoyed a beverage like this on an average sunny afternoon.

Horoscope, My Ass

I personally believe that horoscopes (and other such forms of fortunetelling) are mostly crap. The idea that your personality could be based simply on the planetary alignment or the date and time you were born seems rather silly to me. And the kind of fortunes that seem to show up in horoscopes and cookies and such are so vague that they simply apply to just about everyone! So, with this attitude, I set out to write some of my own. My guess is that you would agree that these more or less apply to you.

"Although you are often times considerate, there are moments when you just care about yourself and what you want."
"Your friends really like you, and for those friends you truly care about, you will go out of your way to help them in a time of need."
"Although people misunderstand you sometimes, you are good-natured and very considerate. But if someone crosses you and wears out your patience, you sometimes ignore them and move on."
"You wish your soulmate to be playful, somewhat outgoing, faithful, and sexy."
"You find yourself occasionally questioning the work of others, while admiring and revering that of others as well."
"An exciting adventure or vacation would be welcome in your life in the near future."
"One plus one makes two."

Any that you have to add?

Companies love me. It's the month of my birthday, and already Red Lobster, Palomino, Red Robin, and Banana Republic have sent me birthday offers. Obviously, it's because I'm so special!

Say, am I the only kid out there who gets an e-card from his parents?

We go through life dating, getting into (and out of) relationships. The general gist is that search for "the one" (if you indeed believe there is just one, but that's another blog's worth). This is the person who could be your ideal spouse. So then ... what do you consider "spouse material"? To you, what is essential to someone's character so that you would consider them a life-long partner in your (joint) quests and journeys?

Is love by itself enough? Is money by itself enough? Most of us would agree that neither could suffice, so what else needs to be there?

For me, she needs to first and foremost be ready to tough it out with me; I've come to the brutal realization that my life will forever be working class (miracles excepted and accepted), and she better not be the type to up and leave when the going gets rough. The ability to apply elbow grease (without whining) is paramount; it's not all fun and games when I'm around.

There's also the opinion about relationships. For instance, one's views on cheating can tell you a lot about them: their commitment, their views on relationships in general, their vengeance, and perhaps what they think is okay because of their friends and family experiences.

Understanding that this is a very subjective issue, it would be interesting to hear how you would sum it up. Some of you might be saying that you don't have requirements, to which I'll say "bull". Would you marry a crack fiend? A kleptomaniac? A serial killer? So you do have minimums; what are they?

Well, I'm nearing the date of my birthday 2003 ... let's see how I matched up against my goals.

- weight at 154lb
- bench press at 205lb with full reps (215lb on a good day)
- left shoulder still messed up
- abs in a six-pack? nowhere close
- love handles back with reinforcements
- appendix scar healed, but still tender (and very visible)
- resting heart rate at 65bpm-ish

Ugh, not very good.

There was a "fence" -- basically a large metal pipe held by posts -- that bordered my elementary school property, stopping only to allow walkways to the doors. In grade 4 or 5, we were playing outside the school one afternoon. I was out there and found a rock, with which I found great pleasure in tapping on this pipe.

Ping ping ping ... ping ping ping ...

Gosh, it must have been so annoying a sound, but I somehow enjoyed making that ruckus. The music teacher Mrs. Cumberbirch walked by and asked if I was the one doing that. I was sure I was in trouble, but she only walked by towards the doors, commenting how interesting it was that the tapping sound travelled so well through the pipe to the opening on the end.

For years, I thought that was just the sort of thing a music teacher would notice. It wasn't until this memory came back to me just recently that I realized she was trying to instill a curiosity for sound (and by extension, music) into our young children's minds.

My love for music and sound today finds great pleasure in that little comment she made, tapping into our minds.

Apologies that BlogExtra has been down for almost 24 hours now. I'll keep my posts short and less discussion-like until the feedback mechanism returns. In the meantime, enjoy some of my friends' blogs (section on right) -- some of them aren't dependent on BlogExtra.

"I'm going to be a dad in May." When I heard those words, mixed emotions rushed at me from all directions.

A flood of happiness engulfed me, and I celebrated from the heart for a dear friend (of over 20 years). I know this responsibility is well-rested on his shoulders and that he will provide more than enough love, comfort, and warmth for his wife and child-to-be. I can't wait to play with the baby! Babies, babies, babies!

And at the same time, a strange sadness -- or is it fear -- fell over me, further striking the chord that I am somehow behind. Don't get me wrong; I don't want a baby right now. There's no way I could afford to raise him/her the way I would want to; I can barely manage raising me! (And anyway, a spouse needs to come first.) But it all points to the same thing: I'm not where I need (or want) to be at this point in my life.

Cheers to T&M on the new addition! Love you both.

Apparently, CareBears are somehow "cool" again -- this was my second shocking observation from Paramount's Great America amusement park. They're back, just like high-top sneaks, mini-skirts, GI Joe, and myriad fads back in the 80's.

I mean, we're just fast-stepping through past decades. I guess a few years ago, the 70's had come back full force (evident in the Charlie's Angels movie title sequence and Snoop Dogg's music video wardrobe), and now we're moving towards the 80's. I suppose neon colours will make the comeback shortly? And grundge as well?

Sign up for wireless through Landover Baptist Church and receive salvation and a free phone. (Hint: This was from the church, and is intended as satire.)

So it's Halloween and I'm last-minuting my costume this year (yet again). This year's theme is military -- I discarded the terrorist costume idea pretty quickly, for fear of violence against my frail body -- and M is at a military surplus store grabbing stuff right now. Pants for $20, shirt for $8, available to anyone, for cheaper than most clothing out there! And we're talking authentic military issue! (Kind of scary, if you think about how easy it must be to get decked up in war gear.)

What are you gonna be, and what you up to tonight?

Is (physical) pain a necessary precursor to effective healing? Does your body/brain need the pain signal to speed up healing process, like an "urgent" signal? For instance, if your leg is cut, but you never feel the discomfort, would your body not rush to heal it as much as if there was a searing pain going through your leg? So if there's no pain, would your body not know it is supposed to fix something? Would there be, as they say, no gain without the pain?

If so, then does that mean all those pain relievers are actually slowing down the healing process? And the relievers then become a semi-tradeoff between comfort and progress.

It's been scorching these past days, and no doubt you've heard about those forest fires spreading across southern California. This past weekend, it hit the 90's again, and San Francisco broke its temperature record this late in the year. So what happened to autumn??

I'm actually looking forward to cooler weather. I enjoy being in t-shirts and jeans or shorts and all, but I miss those times when I had to bundle up a little bit. After all, I want the "Winter Wonderland" type of feeling that is supposed to come with Christmas! WHERE ARE YOU??

Imagine a situation that gets progressively worse as you describe it, like this.

I hate it when I have to pee really bad, and am forced to hold it. While drunk. And wearing button fly pants. Lining up at the public bathroom. And one urinal is flooded. While a precious stall is taken by a drunk guy puking. And another is rendered useless because his puke is oozing under it. Leaving one urinal for you. And the 8 people in front of you. After which, the two sinks are plugged and overflowing, and there are no papertowels left.

Now you write one.

I posted my first eBay auctions today, to sell two coupons for discounted Universal Studios admission. It's kind of exciting, since I'd never done that before.

Oh wait, yeah, I did -- I sold a Sony Minidisc player battery about three years ago! Never mind, then.

I used to track my expenses with anal-retentive prowess. Including cash withdrawals and payments, down to the penny. Of course, sometimes I would be off by ten dollars here or there, but for the most part I had accounted for all of my spending to see where I could cut it down.

Now there are five months during which $800 in cash has been spent without a trace. Not saying that I spent it all on heR (because I didn't), but I wouldn't mind knowing where it went: food, leisure, trips, whims, drinks, whatever. (I figure each night I go clubbing runs me $30 in drinks. It adds up.)

Yesterday, I got myself another paper pad -- I had run out before -- so I can continue this record of my spending habits. In the future, I will probably use my debit (bank) card more often, since those are automatically tracked when I download them to my PFM app.

Sudden Realization

Whoa, I think I still love her.

Just this past weekend, VWvortex updated their site design, which is all about VWAG stuff. I took a look at the galleries they had, and I remembered seeing this squatty little low-profile hamster (the Seat Salsa) and its hopped-up gerbil cousin (Seat Emocion). I actually really like the Salsa, but the Emocion needs some help. A little more toned down in harsh slants and angles is the Volkswagen Concept R.


She was the girl we dreamt of. She was Asian, 5'4", played volleyball, and did all the things that healthy UW college students did. This girl had a promising career in the making: studying finance, job in marketing, and stellar in both. She could swap jokes and insults with the guys, but could also be shy, demure, and innocent at the right times.

You didn't need to see a picture of her to know that this girl was most definitely cute; in fact, she was intentionally faceless. She had an active, flirty personality; how could she not, with a name like whipcream? And she always seemed to be online in the chatrooms at AsianAvenue.com.

Most of all, she was fabulously single and very eligible.

A lot of the guys were drawn to her, while the girls became green with envy and rather catty against the unwanted competition for online males' attention. And she had the widest breadth of knowledge that you had ever known from a person: she could draw on facts from topics she had no experience with. Because she wasn't just one person, she was four or five collective consciousnesses.

Whipcream was the fabrication of our minds, a pseudo-identity we created to kill time between classes, an elaborate experiment in human behaviour. She was often the projection of one driver (key typist), one front-seater (backup), and possibly an amused audience behind that PC. When necessary, the backup would be able to research other topics -- for instance, the name of a particular building at UW that she is supposed to have classes in -- in order to continue the facade.

(Yeah, we had too much free time.)

Hey, how did curiosity kill the cat?

I figure it probably was curious and wanted to see what would happen if it pushed a lit Zippo closer to the stick of dynamite fuse. And at first, it was mesmerized by a bright fizzly light and sound ...

In the past three months, a huge wave of responsibility clouded over me. This wasn't pressured by anyone or anything external ... it's just me by myself realizing that I'm way behind. I know it's not a "race", but if it isn't, then why do I feel so "behind"?

I feel like I need to start taking my future, my life, and myself more seriously. I need to be considering the future of my wife-to-be and kids-to-be when those come into play. (You may have seen remnants of this attitude in my discussions about what car to buy.) At some point, I'm going to have to be a provider of things -- food, shelter, clothing, guidance. I can't be conducting myself in the self-centered, irresponsible lifestyle I've had so far; doing things (or not) just because I "feel like it" (or don't).

The really messed up part is that if someone brought this issue up to me about themselves, I would simply tell them not to worry about it, that things will fall in place and they're still young (no matter the age). But I don't believe it myself, and I worry about it. I worry that I'm almost 30 (clearly 5+ years behind my original Grand Master Plan). I worry that I can't even make mortgage payments, let alone a down payment. I worry that my next purchase is a vehicle -- a necessity -- which will inhibit that real estate purchase even further.

Somehow, though I seem busy all the time, I'm just not "getting anywhere". Which is why I must be "behind".

No more dreading that conversation! No more uncomfortable confrontations! No more expensive lawyer fees and paperwork! Now you can just do it like this (first paragraph)!

Sudsy Residue

So now there are all these antibacterial liquid soaps with scents and everything. (I personally have a favourite -- Target brand melon scented antibacterial liquid hand soap -- but that's irrelevant.) The thing is, soap is there to wash the crap off your hands, but when you're done, you're not just left with your own clean hands; you have your own clean hands and the (albeit pleasant) scent of fruits or teas or berries or something.

Does that mean the soap has left something on your hands? So aren't you just swapping crap for something else (soap additives)? Sure, with moisturizing soaps, that makes sense (and I assume the moisturizers know to stay, while the soap part knows to bugger off with the dirt.) How do they do that, to design soap that goes away, but leaves pure clean scent without residue??

Dear Harvey Newman. Hello, how are you? I am fine. I would like to ask you for a favour so that my webserver and FTP server will be faster, and so that I can download movies and music quicker. Thank you.

On Saturday, we went to Paramount's Great America with M's nephew (C, age 9), niece (E, 14), and niece's friend. (We did not pay the regular-priced $45 admission, whew.) The most shocking observation of the day was how mean E was to her little brother C.

One example: just before the park was closing, we all went to browse the gift shop. C wanted a hat, and E rushed him so much that she didn't even let him find his size. And he was powerless in that situation, so he just bought it. I saw him wearing it as we left, and pointed out how large it was for him. (M and C headed back into the shop to exchange it, but it turned out to be a one-size-fits-none.)

It was just really disturbing to see that obvious an abuse of pecking order, though I guess all kids tend to be mean towards their younger siblings. M told me later that she was even meaner to one of her nephews (2-year age difference).

Anyway, I hope I wasn't that mean to mine. So to my brother and sister, if I was, sorry.

You know, canker sores suck big time.

And "canker sore treatment" doesn't do anything to heal it -- it's just some light benzocaine (10% to 20%) to numb out the pain while providing a "patented protective layer" so you don't irritate it further. The rest is inactive ingredients like filler, menthol and other stuff. And it's really hard to administer properly, no matter what the packaging says! And you get third of an ounce for $6 USD -- that's almost as expensive ancient Chinese herbs!

So what heals canker sores, then? It's starting to interfere with my enjoyment of eating!

I think in California, the best time to go top-down in a convertible isn't the summer: it's autumn and spring (and sometimes winter). The summer sun bears down too hard and hot around here, making it very uncomfortable to drive with the top down (ie. without effective use of A/C); the climate in the other seasons is tempered, and the topless experience becomes more enjoyable.

Festooned with balloons, tables covered in coloured cloths, chalk lines being drawn in the fields ... it's Sports Day today at the elementary school I pass on the way to work!

I remembered that I was never really into sports, and so sports day was really just a day where we didn't have to learn stuff, and I did whatever the older volunteer kids told me to do. "Put the egg in the spoon, hold the spoon like that, and run down there around the pole and come back without dropping it!"

For the shaving contest, I was always the "face kid" -- the one with the shaving cream on his face while team members took turns running and swiping it off with the spoon. After all, I have a competitively advantageous small face, which means less to have to shave!

What I wouldn't give to not have to come into work one day, and spend the whole day outside doing sports and shaving. [sigh]

Today is the first day in a long time that I've gotten to work before 10am. It's quite the rush to be here this "early", but it sure makes the day feel longer.

I can barely count the times I've ghetto pee'd since moving down here, mostly related to clubbing (which is when I'm actually up in the city).

- in an alley off Market Street (SF)
- by a white house (So SF)
- by a residential construction site (Redwood City)
- off the dock around Pier 51 (SF)
- behind the Best Buy by Folsom and 12th (SF)
- in the garbage depot around my apartment (couldn't make it home)
- just outside a lovely residential complex (SF)

It also doesn't help that I need to pee every 30-60 minutes because of how much water I drink, and the drive to SF is roughly 45 minutes long. D'oh!

Fast Company has its own blog! I guess blogs are showing themselves a useful format for commercial publications as well, as shown by FC Now. Interesting.

Chinese Takeout Day

You know that stereotypical image. The tacky Chinese restaurants with that wedgy brushstroke-y font. The silly name: China Palace, Panda Buffet, Oriental Feast, Wong's Eats. The food that is all sweet and sour, deep fried, and served with that funky red sauce, finished off with the oh-so-NOT-Chinese fortune cookie. Ching chang chong.

Just recently, I read about a local artist, Indigo Som, in the SF Chronicle. She went on a interstate trek to find these elusive Chinese icons. I think it's fantastically interesting! Eventually, all this data -- menus, photos, stories, impressions, experiences -- will be compiled into a great work. For instance -- got this from Indigo's blog -- did you know that February 21st is Chinese Takeout Day?

Do you disinfect your towels? You wipe yourself (all those "parts" of you) and then you let the towel sit there to slowly air dry. Over time, it must get nasty -- same with facecloths and hand towels. So how do you clean the towels of any bacteria? Is throwing them in the washer (bacteria and germs love warmth and moisture) and dryer enough, really?

My mom used to boil the facecloths and hand towels in a pot on the stove for a long time, to make sure all the nasties were killed. I figure that's great for those small items, but what do you do with a large bath towel (many of which are even "oversized")??

I just noticed a new velcro design on the latch for my Lion King DVD sleeve!

Normally, Velcro has one side with little fuzzy loops ("velour") and one side with little hooks ("crochet"). And that's the kind I've always seen (more or less).

But I noticed that both sides of this fastener had little mushroom-shaped plastic nubs! So when they were pushed together, they "clicked" into each other! What a great idea!

The only drawback is that they only have a single "level" of attachment (you can make normal velcro stick hard or light, depending on how hard you push the two sides together), and that level has limited strength (probably just enough to hold the sleeve flap on securely). Still, it's a good idea. I wonder if it infringes on the Velco patent, or maybe 3M makes it as well.

Cheap Thrills

Ah, the little pleasures I derive in life! Just yesterday, these things made me happy.

- Halloween trick-or-treat bucket ($0.79). It's a cheap, orange jack-o-lantern, which I plan to put a tea light inside of to give our apartment a slight seasonal feel.

- Organic, fat-free marinara sauce with mushrooms ($1.79). I'm just looking forward to making some pasta soon when I can chew again).

- Lion King, Platinum Edition DVD ($15.99). I love Disney! Though it kind of reminds me of where my Beauty and the Beast Special Edition DVD is. :-(

- Windows down, sunroof open, cruising in the sun. In the middle of October, that means something!

- Shopping at Ranch99. Whenever I'm in there, I see all the foods and brands that my mom cooks with and uses ... it's almost like having my family around again, like being home.

- Playing with babies that are not mine (key point). They're so much fun and so cute, and when I'm done playing with them, it's back to their mommy's problem, hahaha ...

I have made some progress (I think). I have installed Apache 1.3.28, ActivePerl 5.8.0, mod_perl 1.0, and MySQL 4.0.1. But I don't know -- in fact, I highly doubt -- that it's properly configured. (http://bko.homeip.net seems to work, which implies Apache is working.)

Of course, my terribly rusty understanding of Perl (which was limited to programming as it was) and complete lack of SQL knowledge is not making this any easier.

You know, "splendid" doesn't get used enough anymore. It's such a nice word: it's splendid! I know there are a lot of words that have fallen out of normal English use, but should be re-inserted ... suggestions?

A few disjointed thoughts from today's dentist appointment.

1. My dentist put my two upper wisdom teeth (freshly extracted today) in a little envelope for me to take home. Why would anyone want to take them home? As a souvenir? I took them anyway. Who knows, might come in handy one day.

2. Dentists should take extra care in their facial hygiene, paying particular attention to nasal hair growth. After all, their best clients spend considerable time with that view.

3. When you can't chew, there are very few things you can eat. And most of them are very high in carbs.

4. They have a 360-degree x-ray machine with an x-ray gun (and sensor with film opposite it) rotating around your head. How does it get a good picture of your teeth without it being blocked by the obstruction of the spinal cord and/or skulls in the way?

5. A dentist appointment like this on a Friday entitles me to the rest of the day off. I'll go enjoy it now.

Last night, I reinstalled Apache and Perl, and did a loopback test in MSIE -- it came up with the Apache "yay it worked" page! Except ... I don't know where it's coming from. I set it up (or thought I did) so that "domainname/index.html" reads from "F:/_httphome/www/index.html", but I already modified that file to look a little different, and the one that came up was the original!

I even did a search on my PC, but couldn't locate the original file being read! D'oh! Anyway, my DNS hasn't updated yet (typically takes 1-3 days, they say), so I can't test by using domainname yet.

Oh well, more tinkering this weekend.

(Warning: for the next little while, many of my posts will be detailing the move from Blogger towards a webserver and Movable Type.)

I found this great site www.dslwebserver.com/, which details specific steps on how to set up your own webserver. Most of the examples are with particular businesses (www.zoneedit.com, for example), but the instructions are still very very useful.

So far, I have signed up for a free trial through ZoneEdit (for DNS services) and switched my DNS servers over from DotEasy to ZoneEdit. I'm a little concerned that switching the web hosting over to be handled by ZoneEdit will also mess up the POPmail/webmail that I'm enjoying with DotEasy -- that is non-negotiable because my NPG colleagues depend on that service.

I also found another distribution of Perl from ActiveState, which seems to be geared towards a Windows UI. But the Win32 perl I have right now says its source code is from ActiveState anyway, so I think I'll stay the course.

Consider two people, A and B, living in two different cities, where A is north of B. They're talking, and B invites A over to his place.

"If you get a chance, you should come up here sometime!"

But B is south of A! Should he not have asked A to "come down here" instead? In my reference basis, north consititutes "up" and south is "down" ... like you're holding a map (right-side up). And yet, I so often here people use "come up here", where "up" refers to their own location or city. Perhaps it's a subconscious instinct for people to assume that wherever they are is up or higher than wherever else.


Here's how my network setup is right now. My domain is registered and hosted at doteasy.com and I have POP mail and webmail handled there. Other people use those emails, so I don't want them on my PC, but now I do want all the HTTP stuff on my home PC.

I have Dynamic DNS at www.dyndns.org pointing "myname.homeip.net" to my router (which updates my DDNS if my IP ever changes). So I told doteasy to point my domain traffic to "myname.homeip.net", which was the quickest and dirtiest way I could think of for now. My router/firewall routes non-standard ftpport to my PC for FTP purposes. Port 80 (standard http) is supposed to be routed to my PC too, but seems to get ignored instead.

So how do I get this setup to be nice and clean (and working)??

Not having fun. (But it was cool to be going through a .conf file and making manual adjustments again ... sure missed that from back in the Unix days!)

This is just tiring.

I just spent the past 35 minutes cutting and pasting past comments into XLS to start preserving them, in prep for MySQL database. And I'm only at mid-May. Wish there was a better (and more accurate) way, ugh.

So I tried installing Apache 2.0 and then Win32Perl, and got myself all confused, because I ended up with two copies of Apache in there! The Win32Perl bin executable seems to have both Perl 5.6.1 and Apache 1.3.27 in it already, which I got from here!

"Installation" is merely an unpacking of the libraries and files it comes with; I didn't see any interaction with the registry (but I could have missed it). I'm going to uninstall it all again tonight, and then try it all over again. My planned approach is to:

1. install Win32 bin package (Perl 5.6.1, Apache 1.3.27)
2. configure Apache
3. configure Perl
4. fail at each step above, get frustrated
5. skim the manuals / readme files
6. call Mike for assistance
7. quit for the evening and watch Futurama

Looks like I have my work cut out for me! Any pointers before I start tugging my hair (what little I have left) out?

Congratulations to Arnold as governor elect.

Can't say I didn't expect it, but I am somewhat surprised still to see it happen. But most of all, I am disappointed that the people of California would be swayed enough by his public image to have this happen. That said, wasn't this already predicted as a stepping stone to his presidential victory in "Demolition Man"?

I'm so smart -- I do my grocery shopping during work hours now. Shopping is quick, now that Albertson's has a self-checkout thing (which lots of people are reluctant to use, so no line-ups). I just go in the afternoon, and count that absence as breaktime.

I can buy frozen foods and bring them back to leave in the freezer (for eating at work). Refridgerated foods are kept in the fridge until I go home; if I'm off to the gym, I pack my cooler with some ice packs to store the food until I get home.

And yes, I could do my grocery shopping on my own time, but that requires a trip in my time. Plus, the two main stores I go to -- Albertson's and Ranch 99 -- are 5 minutes from work! No Safeway near near here, though, too bad.

Haha, I got back about 10 minutes ago, and my CEO was watching me walk in with my bags; he seemed rather interested in what was in there, but didn't ask. What, is he going to fire me? Hahaha ...

So far, my adventures in webserving have been smooth -- just looking for the resources and proper versions of software to download. Please let me know if I'm on the wrong track with any of these!

Apache. http://httpd.apache.org/
Apache 2.0. http://httpd.apache.org/docs-2.0/

Mod_Perl. http://perl.apache.org/

MySQL. http://www.mysql.com/

Movable Type. http://www.movabletype.org
Movable Type Plugin Directory. http://mt-plugins.org/
RSSfeed Plugin. http://mt-plugins.org/archives/entry/rss_feed.php

GirlieMatters' Tips. http://www.thegirliematters.com/tips/

I'm planning to take this weekend to set this all up.

Yeesh, so much for that healthy Mexican fast-foods, eh? Not that reading this article will stop me from eating at Chipotle -- I love that place -- but I cut out the cheese and sour cream anyway.

Oh, and carnitas (pork) is the oilest one of the meat choices because however it is they cook it. Chicken is likely your best low-fat choice. And corn salsa. Yum.

The stupid "Draft" and "Change Time & Date" features on Blogger suck ass. They don't always work properly.

I hate Mondays.

Today was a wonderful day. The weather was sunny, temperature was perfect for T-shirts and shorts (without being too hot), a slight breeze wafting across the apartment complex. I went for an energizing run on the treadmill, while watching one of my favourite episodes of "Follow That Food". I made my own roasted garlic (first time ever) and bought great steak seasoning, and have my most successful BBQ ribs and chicken ever.

So why am I still so unhappy today, then?

Looking back on my blogs, I've noticed that I have some kind of sick fascination with all things bowel. Do I think toilet humour is funny? Absolutely. But is this getting out of hand?

So far, I've blogged about fresh underwear, toilet seat protectors, splashless techniques, a drain gurgle, boxers, spicy food, a little white house, urinal marking, the underwear hole, toilet seat placement, dark pee, and urine control!

(You may view this as a "flashback episode".)

So I did it. I bought software. Trillian Pro v2.0 for $25 USD -- it's not the first time that I'm a legal customer of software, but it's the first time I had to explicitly pay for it. (I am a registered user of WinXP, which came with my Sony PC.)

Be enlightened (the October 01, 2003 entry) about what kind of metrosexual you are. (Applies to males only, but probably fun for females to read.) I got 27.5.

1. (1) I do the mirror check at work after bathroom runs.
2. (5) Conditioner, facial soap, scented lotion, and I know what a loofah is (but don't have one).
3. (1) I don't have to make an appointment with my haircut place, but I call before I head there just to be sure.
4. (2) I'd do it once just for the hell of it, as long as the secret is taken to the grave.
5. (4) Max. I have a pair of Steve Madden Rascals that I bought just for one pair of jeans.
6. (2) My purchases are heavily influenced by shopping friends.
7. (5) Max. As in #5.
8. (3) Not really a current bestseller, but Harry Potter. And it was recommended. By everyone I know.
9. (2.5) Sometimes it's reluctant, and sometimes those movies just look like fun. I go to movies to escape and that's one way.
10. (2) Like Forrest Gump. Any movies where the protagonist gets dumped or rejected badly.
11. (0) Heard of it, never watched it.
12. (0) Heh.

"25-36: Closet Metrosexual. No need in denying what you are."

A positive article about jobs! Oh, please be true, please be true!

I just watched "Bridget Jones Diary" the other day (and paid attention this time). The movie has a number of intertwined stories of people leaving their spouses or significant others to be with flings, and they eventually turn around and come back pleading for a second chance.

I'm thinking, were I the one who was left while she explored other relationships, I don't know if I could forgive her. Ever. I wouldn't want let myself open to the opportunity of being hurt that badly again (hypothetically "again"). What's to prevent her from not having the same feelings again in the future? And why would she deserve something so gracious as a second chance, anyway?

Would you give that person another chance?

New toy: Gateway's Connected DVD. (Just for researching fun, since I'm too poor for a new toy.)

Here's my first impression: nice, but ugly. It's loaded in capabilities: plays SVCDs and CDR/CDRW, lots of audio outs, and takes almost every connection as input. The user manual shows that you create audio playlists on the PC, which you can pick from the DVD (like a radio station); but you have to import all the files that you want to have available via DVD player.

Major problem is that it only plays MPEG1 and MPEG2 video formats, no MPEG4 decoder. This means that the DivX and XviD files (which most downloadable movies are in) will be unplayable on this DVD player. This would have been the most compelling reason to purchase (for me), and was the single roadblock that discouraged a friend from buying it (before he realized that they're out of stock already anyway).

I'm not TOO impressed with the user interface (or rather, discontinuous behaviour necessary of the user), but I'm not sure how I would make it any better.

I suppose I would like to be able to "(Windows) Explore" the PC's HD and pick a file, and the PC (or some Gateway utility) would recognize it as being accessed (over LAN/WLAN) by the DVD player. Then, when the file is clicked (and is an appropriate format), the PC will uses whatever plug-in / app associated and runs it. Except instead of playing to the PC screen, it will pipe the output to the DVD player automatically, and gives the DVD player manipulating control (video settings, audio settings, play/pause/fwd/rwd/stop). Essentially, it's like remote admin for media playing, and eliminates the need for this importing non-sense.

I would probably also wait for 802.11g or higher throughput (unless PC is on wired Ethernet) because I don't know how taxing this is on the bandwidth.

So today is my two-year anniversary of employment at this company. No balloons, no well-wishes, no party, no pats on the back for my time served in this (seemingly life) sentence. One wonders why I've stayed here so long, under these conditions.

Look what I found on the net! "So ... would you?" Are you kidding me? Hahahaha ... all sorts of people in this world, eh?

I dreamt about her last night, and that there was still hope.

Sometimes people fart in public. Not on purpose sometimes (though not necessarily by accident sometimes either), but it happens. What are they thinking just before or after the deed ...?

"Oh, here's a crowd; now I can't be pinpointed."
"Damned burritos."
"Okay, my butt muscles are tired now. There's no more holding this one in."
"Damned dairy."
"Oh, no ... this is gonna be a doozy."

Go on, I know you got some funny ones (from experience)!

I stumbled across some sobering stories from a very different world. (I'll put it in my links list.) Too bad that on Tuesday past, he decided he would stop the writing.

I miss Vancouver: the friends, the life, the pace.

This is really cool. The world as a blog shows some real-time blogging activity! But according to the info, it supposedly only works with weblog.com and RSS and geotags. Still, fun fun fun!

Put this on a big screen, line your computers on a desk in front of it, and pretend your room is a control room like Capcom! Don't forget to dress up in uniform. (Not the skanky nurse one.)

A recent discussion over microwave popcorn prompted me to steal this excerpt (and reformat it for blog reading) from Alton Brown's first book "I'm Just Here For The Food".

Homemade Microwave Popcorn


1/3 cup popcorn
2 to 3 tablespoons melted butter
Popcorn salt to taste *
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, finely grated, or other "cheese sprinkle" (optional)


Small paper bag (standard lunch size is fine)
Stapler (use exactly 2 staples, no more no less)
Microwave oven with a carousel (important for even popping)
Large mixing bowl

Application: Microwave Cooking

Pour the popcorn into a paper bag and fold the top of the bag over twice to close (each fold should be 1/2 inch deep; remember, the kernels need room to pop).
Seal the bag with 2 staples only, making sure to place the staples at leas 2 to 30 inches apart. **
Put the bag in the microwave over and cook on high power for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the pops are 5 seconds apart.
Remove the bag from the oven and open it carefully, avoiding the steam. Pour the popcorn into a bowl and drizzle it with the butter, then toss with salt and cheese, if desired.

Yield: 6 to 8 cups of popcorn

I've made this stuff six ways from Wednesday and unitl recently I always tossed the kerels in oil before placing them in the bag. But the more I learned about microwaves, the more I started to think this might be unnecessary. After all, the stuff that does the popping (water and plenty of starch) are on the inside of the kernels. The kernel itself doesn't need to brown, so why bother with the added mess? I ran a quick test batch and never looked back.

Although many home poppers advocate the use of other culinary oils in place of butter, I just can't break with this tasty tradition. However, I do like a sprinkle of cheese now and then. Oh, and if you're interested, toss a tablespoon of dark brown sugar in the bag sometime.

Why is Popcorn the Perfect Microwave Food?

Popcorn pops because its kernels contain a high amount of moisture. When heated, that moisture eventually turns to steam. Unable to contain the increased volume of the vapour, the starchy kernel blows out in all directions and freezes in a puffy configuration, which itself results from the rapid drop in ambient pressure. Since it only heats the water portion of the kernal, microwaves can pop corn without burning it. If yours does burn from time to time, blame the oil, which can get hotter than water.

* This is one time koshe salt just won't do. Popcorn salt is very fine, so it sticks readily to the poped kernels. If you can't find it in your local Mega-mart, go with (hate to say it) table salt.

** As long as you're using a microwave oven with a turntable and you don't place the bag where the staples can rub against one of the walls, nothing bad will happen. This is because staples have very little mass and they are shorter than the microwaves themselves, which means they're basically microwave "invisible". So don't be afraid to try the recipe.

Sometimes one flush isn't enough.

(I should put that up as a sign by the urinals and toilets at work.)

Ugh. Back at work. I can't figure out which I enjoy less: being sick and stuck at home, or being well and stuck at work.

Love / In Love

We all know that there's a fundamental difference between loving someone and being in love with that person? But what's that difference, exactly? People say that it's really hard to explain, but when you're in love, you'll know. So how do you know? What is it that tells you you're in love? A certain vision with that person?

Remember back in high school (or earlier or later), when you had a crush on someone or went out with him/her? You thought you knew what love was. Years later, you realized you didn't. So if you know now, how do you know you know? How do you know you won't find later that you still had no clue today?

So ... what's being in love, and how do you know?

Intel wants everyone to get unwired -- but not unconnected -- for a day. In fact, they already have a particular day in mind for you: September 25, 2003.

Louisiana crawfish kind of look something like disproportionate miniature lobsters, but honestly, they look more like bugs. I finally had one -- in an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant, of all places -- and it wasn't all that. The whole time, I felt like I was eating a bug. Or a lobster with very very low yield in meat. Either way, it wasn't really worth the effort.

Being sick at home and taking a day off work is insanely boring. It's about all I can do to stop from going stir-crazy. And healing foods are invariably high in carbs and "good stuff" while being low in the stuff that athletic diets really require. This sucks. I hate being stuck in the house and not doing anything.

Seriously, who would buy that?

So I have the wonderful honour of MC'ing a banquet this coming November. I haven't been working on the speech, and the groom IM'd me recently about that evening. So I gave him an impromptu speech. Transcript below.

[14:05] him: Oh, good thing you've been doing all that blog rhyming lately... it'll come in handy when you MC.... Hee hee.
[14:06] me: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the glorious wedding banquet for [groom] and [bride]. Mike check, 1, 2, 1, 2. Y'all in the house?
[14:06] me: I said, ARE Y'ALL IN THE HOUSE?? I can't hear you!
[14:07] him: "Throw your m-f'in hands in the air! Wave 'em round like you just don't care!
[14:07] me: Check check, 's alright. We here to party all night. Sip Bacardi, red wine or white.
[14:08] me: Congratulate them with a toast!
[14:08] me: Lobster? Ate it, where's the pot roast?
[14:08] me: You can each come up and tell us funny jokes.
[14:09] me: Sun down to sun up, we be drunky blokes.
[14:09] me: Yeah yeah, even you old grumpy folks
[14:10] me: And ya little kids too, the ones cryin' boo hoo. Parents, glue they mouths shut with UHU. Or I come down there and smack them and you too.
[14:10] me: Yay!
[14:10] him: hahahahhahah.
[14:10] me: I can rhyme again!
[14:10] him: you da man, man!
[14:10] him: yes you can, can!
[14:10] me: I knew I could.
[14:11] me: Oh, I'm going to blog that rhyme.
[14:11] him: oh dear... here we go again!
[parts omitted]
[14:13] me: I'll just confirm it this week for you. Is that okay?
[14:13] me: Or you need sooner?
[14:13] me: set sail on your schooner?
[14:13] him: no.. no need... just curious george.
[14:13] me: eat sashimi salmon tuna?
[14:13] me: playing trombone and tuba?
[14:13] me: ever gone diving, scuba?
[14:14] him: dress in drag and do the hula?
[14:14] me: like al pacino, go "Ooohh-aaah"
[14:14] me: Hahaha ... good one!
[14:14] him: like tiimone and his sidekick pumba/
[14:14] me: Nice.
[14:15] me: Like rice. Or shaved ice.
[14:15] me: with milk and fruits on it.
[14:15] him: or half a pound of lice
[14:15] me: Or even syrup, goshdarnnit.
[14:15] me: round up the mice
[14:15] me: and stop 'em from stealing it.
[14:15] me: the wedding and married life -- are ya feeling it?
[14:16] him: (yeah, yeah!)
[14:16] me: in bed with your fairy wife
[14:16] me: must be very nice

(I lost focus in the middle somewhere. And okay, maybe it needs a little work.)

I finally caved in and bought the Weber Q with the rolling cart and vinyl cover, as a package. It's only a 10% discount off the regular Internet prices -- $215 shipped.

I know, I know. But it's an awesome grill and comes with 5-year warranty, and accolades from everywhere. And it's a heavy-duty grill that is semi-portable too, so I can throw it in the back of my car and go.

Now it's time to buy some BBQ tools and wait for it to be shipped! (Sure would have been handy while I was making those pork BBQ ribs tonight -- yum -- had KT bring hers over to grill with.)

I am now the proud owner of two cooking books, each personally signed by Alton Brown, guy in the "Good Eats" shows. He's a really nice guy, and rather witty; his on- and off-camera persona are identical, and the same style as his books are written in. It was worth the 1.5-hour wait in line, after 20 minutes of parking searching, after the 40 minute drive to get to San Francisco. (He's making a tour across America, so you might be interested in seeing him.)

The reason I love his books / show is because he doesn't just tell you what to do or how to do it, but he explains the why of cooking. That is, why a steak that tastes great when grilled tastes gross when boiled. Or why eggs are important in meatloaf. Or why the microwave is fantastic for making popcorn but not so good for other things. It's almost really a scientific way of teaching cooking, and perfect for minds like mine.

Shower Power

Let's get some more granularity on a previous topic. All of us have had some 20+ years' experience in showering ourselves. Humans are creatures of habit, and that is plenty of time to develop some. Do you find that when you shower, you've gotten into a specific shower routine? Do you always do things in a certain order?

My morning shower routine is this.

- shower water on (needs to "pre-heat")
- take Scope
- shampoo the hair
- gargle and spit Scope (you need 30 seconds)
- rinse shampoo, apply conditioner
- body wash
    - chest
    - arms (left, then right)
    - torso (front)
    - back
    - legs (right, left)
    - extra run over neck and throat (dunno why)
- facial cleanser
- brush teeth and tongue
- final rinse

Then I'm out of the shower, and it's time for drying ...

- head/hair, face
- torso (front)
- fun parts
- back
- arms (left, right)
- legs (left, then right)
- Q-tips for the ears

What's yours? Not necessary to provide specifics that we might not want to know (ie. don't detail the "fun parts" unless you have something to point out).

The CEO is flirting with the GSM Engineer again. Ugh, and I have to listen to it, because I have an office next to his. I don't like her much and this isn't an opinion from only me, but she has a guardian angel keeping her around. (Guess who.)

Milk makes my fart stink. I suppose it's the lactose content, but I haven't made the same observations with cheese. Further (semi-controlled) experiments to follow in the near future.

Let Me Check My Schedule ...

Here's my regular weekday routine. (I've even typeface-coded it for you: food-related is italicized, travel/commute-related is underlined, and the rest is black.)

0830 - wake up all groggy
    0835 - protein #1
    0835 - check movie downloads
    0850 - prepare shower
    0855 - prepare smoothie ingredients
    0900 - pack gym clothes
    0905 - take shower
    0930 - pack food for the day
    0935 - get dressed
    0950 - make the smoothie
    0955 - shave, do my hair
1005 - leave home
1030 - arrive at work
    1035 - unpack food into fridge
    1040 - check everyone's blogs
    1050 - check personal email
    1100 - work work work
    1145 - lunch #1
    1400 - lunch #2
    1530 - snack (sometimes)
    1630 - protein #2
    1900 - dinner #1
1945 - leave work
2030 - arrive at the gym
    2035 - energy drink (rare)
    2145 - protein #3
2150 - leave the gym
2210 - arrive at home
    2230 - dinner #2
    2300 - watch a movie on my PC
    0045 - wash up
0100 - sleep

So ... your turn. What's yours?

I am now a seasoned expert in drawing MousyMan! Try by following the step-by-step instructions, and you too can boast this skill in your resume!

I have a new favourite word: automagically. I've seen it on some online forums like VWvortex.

It's basically how a feature does something on its own, and the inner workings of it are completely blackbox, dunno-how to the user. Like when you step into the newest luxury cars, and the seat somehow just knows it's you and adjusts itself properly to your liking. Or how the car unlocks when it knows you're coming. Or how your nightlight turns on when it gets dark.

Or like how every other Wednesday, I get a paycheque for exactly the right amount to pay off my bills with nothing left over: automagically!

Soda Pop, Bop-She-Bop-She-Bop

The battle continues. So is it pop or soda? Notice the lack of west coast representation in this survey? :-( There's already another survey of 120,000 people that shows this. (Wow, strong Coca-Cola brand presence in the southeast USA?)

I've had my amazing Braun Multiquick Professional MR5550HC-BC handblender -- which, contrary to its name, is a blender you hold in your hand and not a machine to blend your hand up -- for about three weeks now. With this wonderful power-tool-for-the-kitchen, I make smoothies at home in the morning.

It's amazingly simple: pieces of frozen fruit (whatever flavour of the day my taste buds call for that morning), a banana cut into pieces, some milk and a healthy helping of honey.

I grab the whole mixing beaker (which is like an oversized tumbler), poke a straw in it, and I'm out the door! This tasty, carb-loaded concoction costs me under a dollar in materials to make each morning, which totally beats out the $4.50 for a Jamba Juice. And it keeps my tummy full at least until 11:30am (which is my first lunchtime).

Lest we forget ... just another reminder on why Canada is cool.

Haha, now we're talkin'. Just a matter of time before holographic displays get cheaper and better! Heck, you can even get 3D LCDs on the new Sharp notebook! (There's a nicer version on the Sharp Japan website.)

Curses, Foiled Again

I thought I read somewhere that aluminum foil is supposed to be wrapped shiny side in because of the coating on that side of it (to avoid interaction / reactions with the food). Food service establishments always seem to wrap their foods with tin foil, leaving the shiny side out. Here I am, wondering how it is they wouldn't know that!

Well, I was wrong. (It's rare, but it happens.) The food packaging guide corrected me, as did Reynolds (the aluminum foil company). But even so, shouldn't the shiny side reflect heat better? Perhaps the shiny side might stick less to the food (because it's microscopically smoother)?

One thing I know about tinfoil -- the rolls aren't wide enough to make nice foil hats with, before you go venturing into a crop circle.

The Asian Moon Festival is upon us -- September 11, 2003! I went to buy myself a mooncake, so I can sit and watch the big ol' moon while I'm eating it. I never realized how expensive the mooncakes are! There's a tiny little bite-size ones that are $1.35/ea, the 4-inch diameter ones that are around $6/ea, and then the even bigger ones that are like twice as much! (Variances depend on filling type and egg yolk count.)

Damned moon, costing me so much in mooncakes. How about if at some point during the night, I pulled them off and pointed my butt at people, as my own special tribute to the Moon Festival??

Remember that ingenious Honda ad? There's a sequel, but as many sequels go, it just doesn't match up to the original.


The sun shone its usual May routine. While the four occupants were giddy with anticipation of the lake and BBQ, his little car zipped along the twisting mountain roads. He and she met only minutes earlier, introduced by a mutual friend. Unlike most such events, no awkward smalltalk was needed to kindle a bond: conversation flowed smoothly, filled with laughs.

All the while, she was carefully -- though none too discretely -- playing with the various switches and buttons from her passenger seat, peering curiously into the storage compartments, the arm rest cabinet, and anywhere that would bear hints to his personality. A question tore through the conversation mid-way.

"Are you gay?" she asked of him, almost in mocking.

A moment passed as he realized the source. His eyes never left the road as his arm moved to shut the armrest, with a sheepish look of embarassment on his face.


She giggled with mischievous delight, reopened it, reached in, and re-emerged, brandishing a lovely tube of hand cream in some kind of fruity scent.

"Don't listen to her. She listens to weird music ... like musicals," her friend in the back mused with a wrinkled nose.

"RENT and Les Mis are my all-time favourites!"

"No way!" he exclaimed in incredulous disbelief. Without a word, he flipped open his music collection ... to those two soundtracks. RENT was the selection of choice for the rest of the trip there.

These were only the first of many clicks between him and her. And as it turned out, it would be only the first of many days shared between him and her.