After the recent outage, I've started appreciate more the things I depend on. When you rely on such basic amenities in your life, and they're suddenly yanked away from you, you realize how much it means! No, I don't mean power on the east coast: I mean the blog feedback from BlogExtra.

But it's also made me realize that I'm no longer content with spewing my garbage content into the "black hole" of the world and not getting anything back. Feedback (nearly-instant feedback) is how I gauge the audience interest in my writing -- website statistical tracking isn't enough to satisfy this curiosity. I guess it goes to show that I could never be a radio station personality ... talking talking talking into the microphone without some way of knowing who cares out there (except for when they call in).

This brings up another question. Should I even care about what the audience thinks? Is this blog for me to spew thoughts, or for me to write things that my audience (essentially then like a customer) to amuse themselves with? Or both? Or neither? My first intentions were to spew my thoughts (random and useless as they are) and various updates on my life. More recently, the blog has seemed to take a life of its own and has become sort of a show. People drop by for a new half-episode, and contribute to the comments to continue that show. The next day, same thing happens again.

Just wondering about all this, 's all.

Since the BlogExtra comments are still down (mumblegrumble), here's an entry that doesn't require your feedback or interaction.

It's a rather strange project in social studies ... it's called SwearLine. Go on: vent your frustrations verbally, and have them immortalized!

Stupid BlogExtra/BackBlog has been down today. Your blogs have been spared from my daily abuse of smart-ass comments.

These breaks make me wanna host my own blog with RSS and such, though as each day passes, the project of porting my old stuff (including the invaluable comments and feedback banter) over to my own blog area increase. It's like the barriers to exit are building up against me! Heck, even this blog is working against me!

Ugh. Someone please put BlogExtra back up. I'm dying to write smart-ass feedback.

Hey, how do we know the bestsellers list (on websites) are really bestsellers? The list could mostly consist of bestsellers with a few popular titles that they really want to push out of their inventory. Putting it in the bestsellers will make people think it's more popular than it is, which might persuade them to buy it.

"Tons of people thought this DVD was worth buying. Hmmm, maybe it is. Okay. [click add to cart]"

Damn, those guys are sneaky.

So Mars is in opposition today / tomorrow. See an animation of how close we get. We went and saw this on Friday. *

But I wonder if there are Martians doing the same thing, rushing around to their space observatories to see the Earth!

"Okay, class, everyone line up nicely. The last time Earth was so close to us was 31,900 Martian years ago! Notice that Earth has two polar caps that never melt like ours is. They also are 75% covered with water, making most of their land useless because it's underwater. There's considerable alien activity over a lot of the inhabited land, but so far, only a few of their ships have even bothered to come out to greet us. You all remember, of course, the little remote control toy car they sent to us as a gift? That's right, the one that Tommy broke."

* Already on Friday, the lineup at Chabot was three hours long at midnight to see the red planet. People were clamouring for a view of this once-in-a-lifetime event! We wussed out and did a 20-minute wait to peer through an amateur telescope instead, opting to come back another day.


I've never been so scared out of my wits in recent memory. Nothing happened. Just some talk about paranormal and psychics, and then a chilling feeling while in a room by myself ... only to find out later, I wasn't the only one with that feeling. I can't sleep. I'm scared.

If your pee is dark, what health condition is that a symptom of? Whatever it is, some guy in our company has that. This same guy is apparently too cool to flush his own urinal, leaving it for others to find.

Home Furnishings

The new IKEA's grand opening
is happening this Wednesday evening.
I was even thinking about christening
and gracing the place with just my being
there. I could care to spare a fair hour or two.
East P A, off the freeway, the square building in blue.
Even the parking part is brand new!
So crazy clean, so amazed we'll be,
when we mess it up with our old shoes!

A short drive and we can shop up our fill!
A long wait outside will kill the thrill,
but appreciate this forever, we will:
no more long drives out to Emeryville!
Now, I don't know what else to say.
I want to be in the party on opening day!
16,000 people are expected that way.
Cops will direct traffic (hopefully away).

So I guess I'll wait a few more days to visit.
It's not worth crowding around like that, is it?

Haven't had a short posting in a while. Okay, now I have.

I think I know now why sausages are curved.

From reading, it seems casings are key and sausage weight plays a factor. I suppose natural casings are animal products, and not straight to start with. The article says that salami is straight because the meat weight while stuffing will straighten it out; that makes sense, right? But breakfast sausages are tiny, light, and still straight! The mystery still remains unsolved ...

Even a Filipino-Canadian forum has discussed sausages and longannisa, though they say nothing about curvature. You might also be interested in the history of the hot dog. It will be on next week's test.

Oh, and somewhere along the 237 on the way to work this morning, it smelled like there was a sausage factory near the highway. Yum.

(No, I'm not suddenly metrosexual.)

My latest toy for research is a handblender.

So far, I've set my sights on the Braun Multiquick Professional MR5550 (HC+BC). 400W driven through a stainless steel shaft, variable speed (and turbo), and it comes with all sorts of useful attachments too! It's on sale at Macy's for $90, though I can get it online for $85 including shipping.

The next step down is the Braun Multiquick Profession MR5550 CA, which is still 400W, but lacking the sexy steel shaft and a lot of the attachments (primarily the ice crusher and large chopper beaker). This one is about $60 USD at Macy's. For the $30, I might rather go with the whole package and be done with it -- a stainless steel shaft should be much more durable. What do you think?

There's a fantastic epinions review that compares the Braun models, written by wyu out east.

This is getting out of hand. I had a dream last night ... that I was hanging with a group of friends (whom I don't know in real-life) and we were freestyling on some game console which measures rhymes and rhythm. I choked like Eminem in 8 Mile and couldn't turn anything out, and started looking around and reading sides of boxes to rhyme to, before I relaxed.

I guess that's why freestyle wars are mostly about talking about how great they are, and then smack talking the other guy -- because that doesn't really change from war to war. And they can easily get comfortable at it. And it probably makes them feel better to slag on the opponent a little, feel a little tougher, more hardcore.

Heck, what do I know: I was rhyming to sides of cereal boxes in my dream.

Drama fo' yo' Mama

The circle has been having some pretty yucky drama:
"F-U, dirty fight!" (though nothing about llamas)
All that, nasty talk has really made me wanna
run it home, back to the safety of my Mama.

I heard a lot of crap; it make ya blood freezes.
Skull crushing, teeth smashing,
"pop you and chop you up ... into little pieces!"
"I'm a smack you up bad, when you get to SFO!"
That's the kind of stuff that has been said: "ghetto."

Emails beeped to keep the peace like in the UN.
Unrelated people started writing emails too when
an apology was sent, and now they're s'posed to be "friends".
But there were threats of vi'lent killings ... what then??

I am now officially an addict; someone please stop me.
If I don't quit this, I'ma ask you to pop me.
Put me out of my misery, mute me please, make me history.
On my tombstone, you can put "Rhyming fiend, this is he."

This is really becoming a nasty problem.

Notice how our occupations are often used as sole identifier of a person? One of the first questions posed when meeting someone new is, "So what do you do?" Does it matter, really -- as a person -- what you do for a living?

Professions have stereotypes that seem to make it easier for us to pigeonhole this new person into something familiar. By knowing what they do during their 40-hour weekly sentences, we figure we get a decent overall picture from which to advance.

"Oh, an engineer? You must be smart." (In the Bay Area, it's usually, "Another one, huh.") Really. I say we just think a certain way that others don't. Why the assumptions?

Accountants can do math. (In fact, most accountants I know are more apt to reaching for the calculators, while engineers tend to try it in their heads first. It doesn't mean engineers are smarter -- just that we are trained to approach things differently.)

Salespeople are talkative or sleazy, and tend not to get much respect as doing "real work" -- they're money driven with dollar signs in their eyes.

I'm sure there are more -- feedback with some -- but you know what I mean.

With Jack-in-the-Box as my friend, I gain about 35,700 people in my Personal Network. But I took him back out again; he's not really my friend, I just eat his food every once in a while.

Damn, I shoulda been a rapper. Peep my rhymes, yo. (We're having SO much fun with it, I think I'm might have to start a thread from here!) Hahahaha ...

Ah, the classic endless battle: toilet seat up or down? We all know that men like it up, women like it down. (Mind out of the gutter, people. We're talking toilet seats still.) I mean, that's perfectly fine, this difference of preference. One would expect us to agree to disagree.

But why do women not tolerate men sometimes forgetting to put it back down? I think in general, men will comply and try to put the seat back down for the ladies, out of consideration / love / whatever. But sometimes, we forget. The world doesn't end there, you know. I mean, you never hear of men getting all twisted up because a lady left the seat down, right? What exactly is the big deal? Shoot, it's not like we're demanding the ladies raise the seat ... and we still can't come to an agreement?

"The seat is cold if we sit on it and the seat isn't down!" Uh ... then LOOK before you SIT! If you know there's a chance of it happening, wouldn't it be wise to exercise that extra bit of caution? Sitter beware!

Believe it or not, this was a very sticky point in a past relationship. Though I tried my best to accomodate to her wishes, I did on occasion forget to put it back down ... and when I did, she would throw a fit. I really couldn't understand why it wasn't as easy as just putting it back down and getting on with life.

This is not an issue right now, thank goodness. :-) Just a fleeting thought in my mind.

How do you lose a shoe on the side of a highway? You know what I mean. We all see them; it's apparently quite popular.

Well, in my boredom, I thought of some quotes you might hear ... just before the shoe hits the highway pavement.

- "Hey, keep your feet inside the window! Seriously, that's dangerous!"
- "Dammit, my foot's so itchy. Whoops."
- "I haven't been able to find that right shoe for weeks now! Oh well, guess I won't need this left one."
- "This is gonna be so funny! Check this out: watch the car behind us."
- "Oh, HERE's the right shoe. Shoot, I just threw out the left one. Guess I won't need this one now."
- "Royal flush?? Dammit, I hate playing strip poker in the car."
- "Hey, think you're so tough?? What, you couldn't hit me with that! Gimme your best shot!"
- "Who throws a shoe?? Honestly!!"
- "Go ahead, I dare you!"

What else might have been said??

Branding Animals

I say, the power of branding is absolutely amazing. I mean, never mind the consistent quality idea of having a brand, but just that the brand can instill a certain perceived value in a product. There isn't really much added cost in a nice design / style, or even in the cost of materials / manufacturing / distribution, unless there was a serious quality difference.

I'm reminded of a recent trip home, when we walked into a number of stores. Tiger Woods golf shirts going for $100 CAD, where other Nike Golf ones were $60 CAD. Chanel purse for $1650 CAD -- Coach purses are $200 CAD, in contrast. I mean, I'm sorry? $1650 for a purse?? And you can't tell me they spent more on the design -- those purses (almost every model) were quite ugly, in my fashion opinion. I mean, butt ugly, as in not even worth $100.

So exactly how does one build a brand up to such a point, where the object itself really doesn't matter anymore? Where they can make things as ugly as they like, and people will still cut their legs off to buy it??

Dammit. I don't remember coming home again. That's what happens when you have a "doubleshot" of Crown that is really more like four.. More blogging when I really wake up.

A dear friend recounted her recent chain reaction of purchases. I was surprised on how much she's spending, and on tech toys, no less! Beware. Do not get suckered in! Save yourself!

"Well, doctor, it all started when ..." when I decided my laptop needed an upgrade: I really just wanted a bigger harddrive (than the 6GB) and a CD burner for music and data. This idea evolved from buying a monitor-less mini-PC to store in the closet (and I could access it remotely to do what I needed), into just buying a new system. Behold the list ...

Sony VAIO RX-752 computer system ... just because.
Cornea CT1702T 17" LCD screen ... to be my monitor and TV.
Logitech Cordless Comfort Duo wireless keyboard & mouse ... to control my DVD from my bed.
Canon S400 digital camera ... to share pictures with friends.
Sandisk 256MB CompactFlash card ... 32MB wasn't enough.
NB-1LH extra battery ... one battery doesn't cut it.
DSC-P50 case ... to not scratch up my S400.
Lexar Pro Series 1GB 32x CF card ... 256MB wasn't enough.
Western Digital Caviar 200GB Special Edition harddrive ... to store all those pictures!

So inside of a 12-month period, I've totalled $2369 USD in toy spending. Help, someone save me!

Remember how I wondered what kind of Honda I would be? I just noticed that the Honda Accord Coupe EX-V6 is one of my leading contenders in the car hunt! Isn't that interesting? (Yeah, it was only cool to me for a moment too.)

Hahaha, I'll be okay, I know that. But I'm not striving for okay. "Okay" is a baseline that my dad and mom provided for me; I'm supposed to be doing better than that, supposed to leapfrog forward. And somehow, I'm no closer to "great" or "fantastic" than I was two years ago. Where is this potential progress leaking to??

I had this question posed of me: what's the stupidest thing you ever did while drunk? My answer is that I ...

... kissed two girls. (In fact, I was kissing the second one while still holding onto the first.)
... repeatedly smacked my head against the concrete wall in despair. (This was the follow-up reaction to the above incident, after I got chewed out by the first girl's best friend.)
... melodramaticly begged for forgiveness outside the club, creating a crazy scene. (Another reaction to the above, begging for forgiveness. Bar owner had to come out and calm us all down.)

I'll tell you, that girl (the first one) has never let me forget that night; she keeps laughing at me (particularly since the second girls wasn't attractive). She gets a kick out of it, for some reason.

All I have to say is, Element's open bar night (ie. free-flowing drinks for an hour) is a double-edged sword. Still, thanks to Steve & Jamie & Phil & crew for having it. :-)

Someone tell me my logic doesn't make sense?

1. All the fun people (by definition) have done fun stuff before, or are doing fun stuff now.
2. All sinners by definition will (or may) go to hell.
3. All the fun stuff is pretty much classified as sin.
4. So all the fun people are going to be in hell.
5. Hell will have all the fun people and heaven will have none.

Given that train of thought, why wouldn't we want to sin anyway (which is fun now) to guarantee a spot in hell (which will be where all the fun people are later)?

(Not intended to be offensive; apologies if you found it so, in which case, there are probably a lot of other things in my blogs that you're not liking so much.)

Back to the new car thing. I've narrowed things down to something more realistic (and slightly more "responsible"). The cars I'm now considering for lease.

- Audi A4 Cabriolet
- BMW 3-series
- BMW Z3
- Saab 9-3 convertible (2004)

And for purchase, my list is more like this. (Not listed are the state auctions that might come up.)

- Acura CL-S (2000+)
- Audi A4 (2003+)
- Honda Accord Coupe EX-V6 (2001+)
- Mazda 626 (2003+)
- Nissan Altima ?

I still have a feature wishlist.

- sunroof
- 6-spd manual, or auto with sport-shift
- leather
- climate control
- navigation

At the moment, looks like I still have a year to do all the math and decide.

And we are live, broadcasting to you from a PC with 280GB total storage, baby! Didn't even have to use the included Ultra ATA controller card, because apparently my Sony VAIO (RX-752) supports 48-bit LBA. (There is usually a problem with harddrives over 137GB for machines still using the old 28-bit addressing scheme.) Now ... how shall I partition 190772MB of space? Hmmm ...

I have this digital photo I took while in Vancouver. It's a sign that says, "June is bike month." Really. So, exactly, who decides when bike month is? Who says, "Okay, we're really inot bikes and we want June."

"No, no, sorry. June has already been taken; it's the Asian Parents of Doctors Month." (No offense to Asian parents of doctors.) Or is there a vote that happns somewhere, or some kind of bidding process (like the US chopping up their airwaves to make money)? I wouldn't mind the day before Remembrance Day being "Ben Day". (Hold your puns with "Ben Gay" already. Consider them done.)

And how should they allocate the months? There are only twelve months in a year; we couldn't possibly give each one exclusively to some awareness cause! Even adding the weeks (52), that's not enough. Even with the added help of each day of the year (365) minus the popular international holidays (30-ish). I'm sure they'd come up with more things to lobby for, right?

I need a haircut. Today. I can put it off no longer.

People point and laugh at me. (Though that might be a more deeply rooted problem.)

There's something about amusement parks that keep drawing us back, no matter how ripped off we get, no matter how much torture they put us through while we're there.

- People butt in line at the amusement parks all the time. It helps to wear sunglasses, look in their general direction with an expression-less face (like Arnold in T2), and clear your throat. It also helps to be buffed, but I don't have that advantage.
- Traffic in amusement parks is primarily caused by parents pushing strollers into other people, groups of people who stop mid-walk to check their maps, and those who enjoy pulling u-turns without warning.
- Disneyland is very clever. FASTPASS gives the illusion of allowing you to ride more rides in a day, but doesn't. More analysis on this (crowd flow and control issues) later.
- Universal Studios doesn't even offer this illusional tactic. You have to wait, but they do tell you how long you're forced to wait in the sweltering heat next to the rip-off frozen lemonade stand. (Incidentally, to get the lemonade, you have to stand in line too.)
- That drink is not worth $2.49, though the hot dog is not bad for $4. I'm out $6.49 all the same, though.
- People in amusement parks sweat. A lot. And the ones who sweat more, mind less about bumping into you as they walk by. Sticky. Gross.
- Beware the children who eat the spicy Cheetos snacks and get the red stuff all over their fingers. Be very careful they don't trip and try to grab onto you for stability ... with those same fingers. (Also note that children enjoy licking their fingers, making the flavour powder into a red paste.)
- And for all this, we'll pay through the nose for it. Average $50/person per day.

Given all this, how often do you endure this? How often are you at Great America or Six Flags Marine World or PNE or wherever? I don't go often, and I'm pretty sure why now.

Um, where's the size cutoff between shrimp and prawn? At what point are prawns prawns? Or are there different species that make them what they are, so a shrimp can't just grow into prawn status?

And are shrimp cocktails really prawn cocktails? Some of those ones are pretty big! I'm also assuming that coating a shrimp in a lot of batter before cooking doesn't make it a prawn, as many Chinese restaurants would have you believe.