McDonald's and the Kids

A notable quote happened upon us one late night ...

"McDonald's is okay, [because] they give water to kids."

- R in his drunken stupor

I suppose he meant (without explaining) that at least the "big, bad McDonald's" offered water as a beverage option to the most loyal of its customers: kids. I mean, at this point, he was six pints into Christmas Eve and definitely completely out of his tree. I didn't feel the urge to correct him, and point out that I have almost never seen any child take Ronald McDonald on that offer of fresh water instead of the tasty soda pops given in those Happy Meals.

I should mention that this quote occurred very very early on Christmas morning, and only some ten minutes after we had dressed his passed-out body up in high heels, a shawl, a purse, then painted his toenails, posed him holding a hairbrush and brandishing various hotel room items (seemingly) up his butt. And I have photographic evidence to show our glee.

But for the record, his own girlfriend was the mastermind behind all of this. I just had the shutter finger.

Holiday Side Effects

Bah. Humbug. I don't love Christmas as much as I used to, and I never believed in Santa Claus -- even before I knew that he couldn't exist. Before I could look up the mathematical calculations, before I could read poems about other people's investigations, before we could even use NORAD to track Santa's alleged whereabouts.

But it'll all be over in a day. And the mad rush to the malls won't be for last-minute gifts that you swear you would get done early, but end up doing on December 24 every year anyhow. No, the rush will be to the Boxing Day sales, and to the returns / exchanges counters instead. After all, what the heck are you going to do with that wool-knit reindeer sweater that's two sizes too big? Or with that tie imprinted with someone else's name on it?

On the other side, I take this chance to enjoy some of the random little acts of kindness and selflessness that people feel compelled to grant around this time of year. Little things like giving you returns or doing little things for complete strangers (ie: me) ... just under the simple guise that "it's Christmas". It's a refreshing change from the regular rat race of the get-out-of-my-way-if-you're-not-doing-something-I-can-benefit-from world. It's just noticeable that people are more cheery around Christmas; reap the benefits of that!

And while the cheery mall choirs and carols might be nauseating to some, I find that they do kind of put a chipper mood in me. Blinking lights, a little egg nog or "special Christmas punch", some repetitively mind-numbing Christmas chants, and I'm suddenly a slave to the spirit of commercial subliminal messaging.

So This is Christmas?

I woke up late this morning, had my soy milk and my kashi whole-grain high-protein cereal with skim milk, watching 30 minutes of Balance TV talking about ergonomic chairs and the ironic evils of sugar-free sweeteners. I assembled the oil heater and moved it to the study room. I started another DVD for backing up to my harddrive, and sat at the computer to add more music to my iTunes library and check my emails.

It wasn't until I saw an IM buddy's status message that I realized that today isn't just another day: it's Christmas Eve. And still, it doesn't feel any different than any other day. Any other cold day in Vancouver. At home. Totally un-Christmas-like.

Merry Christmas to you all, hoping you're spending it with friends and family and loved ones, close to you in body or in spirit. Share the love.

(And the candy canes, share those too. Oh, and be liberal with the gravy already. And pass that Toblerone over -- break off your wedge and pass the rest on over! You're not the only one craving sugars on the Atkins / South Beach / low-carb diet, you know.)

The Feeling of Skin on Skin

Put your legs together, so they're touching. You see, as a man, I wear pants or shorts that almost always go past the knee. But ladies have the option of skirts and dresses, and it only dawned on me the other day that this is an even bigger difference than I had previously given credit to.

I mean, when you women wear skirts or dresses and you sit crosslegged, your legs touch. I mean, they touch each other. Like, skin on skin. Men never get that, because there are always two layers of material between our thighs (one layer on each pant leg). So to be sitting in public or wherever, and having your own skin touching you; I wonder what that must feel like.

Thought just popped into my head like that, without warning. Huh. And I haven't even had any egg nog yet.

I Finally Heard It

So I'm landed and settled back at my parents' place for the holidays, and I'm kickin' back in the living room. I flip on the ol' idiot box to catch the 10 o'clock news. And then I heard it.

"... help them 'oot'."

The newscaster said "out", and I heard it as "oot". I mean, I don't suppose she says it in any manner different than I might have said it too, but I was pretty sure it sounded like "oot". I sat there, rather shocked that I had flipped sides. I couldn't believe it.

It was slow and subtle, but it's starting to happen: I'm starting to speak American. Luckily, I'll have a few weeks here to fix that right up and get my Canadian pronunciations back!

Things Left Undone

I'm going home today. And though I'm happy to head home, and had the chance to catch up with friends who live in the SFBA, there are a few people whom I would have really liked to see one last time. Alas, it wasn't meant to be. And as I leave here indefinitely, I can't help but feel that there are many things left undone, many words left unsaid.

Squeaky Clean

That's four times in the past two weeks now.

I'm sitting there in the restaurant, minding my own business, with my purchased (or to-be-purchased) food. And I'm eating it. I'm not being gross, nor am I being obnoxious, and I believe my etiquette to be completely acceptable.

But somehow, the cleaning crew takes my dining experience as a cue to begin cleaning. And I mean more than just wiping the table next to us. They embark on major industrial-strength cleaning tasks like:

- pushing all the chairs together at the food court
- scrubbing the table feet with a brush and soap
- vacuuming the floor around us
- sweeping dust and other air pollutants

I mean, come on. These are rather respectable establishments, so it's not necessarily some ghetto joint. But a little respect please? Why be doing the cleaning in and around me, while I'm eating??

The Spirit Awakens

It's December. About 3 weeks to Christmas, but probably about 3 weeks after stores and malls have prepared for the Christmas rush. So we're kind of at the psychological halfway point in terms of the buildup to anticipating this holiday event.

Some years, my Christmas spirit ramps up really soon, and by the time December 1 comes along, I'm in full gear and all jolly about the season. Some years, it takes right up until the days before Christmas before I start feeling that emotional inkling (and then it's kind of too late to enjoy it before you have to endure the craziness of Boxing Day). More recently, I experience the latter -- maybe I'm just getting jaded about the existence of "magic" that will miraculously save/uplift us all. Sad, no?

Maybe I just need to play "Sleigh Ride" more on my iPod. I'll do that on the way to work today.

Shhh ...

Sorry for the longer silence. Things are happening. Will tell you about them later. :-)

So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish

This sealed the deal after a conversation that surprised him.

This is to formally notify you that I am resigning from The Company. Friday, December 17, 2004 will be my last day of employment.

I made this decision as a personal strategic career move. It's been a great pleasure working with you, with the impressive team at The Company, and I enjoyed representing the company. I wish you and The Company continued success! I'm sure that in this small world, we will no doubt cross paths either professionally or personally.

Please feel free to call on me if I can help over the next short while to ensure a smooth transition.

I just realized today that I had never before this resigned from a company. Usually, the contract time was up, or that the dot-com went belly up. It's a neat experience -- and definitely liberating.

But I think I ruined their weekends. Oh well.

Move It ... II

So, in the first stage of moving, out goes all the stupid things:

- clothes that don't really fit anymore, but you keep around just because it seems wasteful to throw it out
- anything that you don't even really use anymore, but you keep around for the same reason as above
- little odds and ends that you collected from other people with the thought of "oh, this might come in handy one day" but never has

And when space/weight is at a premium, you start to have to cut out things you'd like to keep, but can't really:

- extra furniture
- clothes you wear once in a blue moon
- books that are useful as reference ... or will be one day, someday
- food that you bought at Costco and still have 75% of left

And when the timing of the move comes to a close, you realize that what you thought was just a few minutes left of cleaning here and there actually is more like 4 hours of cleaning. This is, of course, mostly because your roommates had already moved out and left anything they didn't want, which means you have the whole apartment's worth of crap to clean out and throw out.

At this point, the final stage of moving kicks in: you take a large box (or bag) and start piling all the "miscellaneous stuff" in there. These are, of course, things that have proper places, and are put all in a single box even though they have nothing to do with each other. You'll also find that this box really could be thrown out, but again, you can't bear to.

At some point, sentimentals will have to be given up (in favour of essentials), but I haven't really gotten that far yet. Those are in a special little box of their own.

Not His Intent

"Well, I'm not here to mooch. I'm not a mooch."

- R, as he left with bags of stuff from my apartment

In an effort to clear out this humble abode (or ex-abode), I've probably showered my friends with tons of unexciting household items. Clorox ReadyMop, dishwasher liquid, scouring pads, plungers, guava juice, cans of sweet corn, tuna, and chicken (not all together), iron skillets, frozen gourmet burger patties, coat hangers. Everything that doesn't find a new home to use them will be trashed now. Things not worth moving/keeping, yet too wasteful to throwaway, and still not really worth the hassle of trying to sell.

My place is starting to feel empty. Just memories are lingering now. A lot of memories.

Move It ... I

It's interesting how we take certain luxuries for granted, how in this material world we have started seeing all sorts of things as necessities. For instance, after my last trip overseas (a month ago), I brought back a luggage case with clothes and items in it that I "absolutely needed to have on-hand" while back here. That suitcase remained untouched for the most part until last week.

Clearly, a lot of things I thought I wouldn't really be able to live without, I already had been! It means that my life really could be a lot simpler, a lot fewer headaches.

Packing for a move really brings this to light. I've lived in this apartment for three years now, and it's incredible how much crap I've accumulated. And it's interesting because usually I "find" things that I forgot I had -- which means I didn't really need to have it around.

Packing for a move really brings that to light, too. Because in packing, one hopes to reduce one's moving volume as much as possible -- after all, volume and weight become dollars when you pay someone to ship that stuff for you.

So here I go, trying to lighten the load ...

Tryptophanic Thoughts

The holiday season is upon us again. And this year, I was asked this question:

"What are you thankful for this year?"

I'd never been asked that before, and I didn't have a really good answer. So in the tradition of passing uncomfortable or awkward situations along, what are you thankful for this year?

An Unsaid Connection

Over IM.

"I know that even though you were with [heR], I knew your heart was with mE."

There has to be something amazingly cosmic, something soulmate-ish about that. Because sHe was right.

The Lime Part is Key

So I was watching the Food Network some time ago ... it was an episode on Florida, and all the secret places to go. I think it was Rachel Ray's "$40 a Day", actually. And they had a little bit on key limes and what they can make with it.

Then it suddenly dawned on me that I've never had key lime pie before. Ever in my life. I imagine it just tastes like creamy limes in a pie, but I wouldn't mind trying a good one. So last night, while dining with friends at Max's Opera Cafe -- where the waiters sing live while you dine, it's pretty cool -- I tried some.

It was alright. And I had a second opinion that it wasn't very good (since I didn't have much basis for this). So ... what's a decent/good place in the Bay Area to get some for my second key-lime tasting?

Hey, Hey, It's Friday Night!

Hmmm ... Friday night again. The weekend lies ahead, promising relaxation and errands undone. So ... exactly why is it that in the past month or two, every Friday night, I've been at the office until past 9pm, even though I never stay past 630pm any other night? Oh, that's right: because I have no life. [sigh]

GTI = Gone Today Indefinitely

Tomorrow is the lease maturity date for my GTI. Can't believe it's already been 3 years with that car. But the timing is actually pretty good, since I wouldn't really have needed it for much longer anyhow.

So yesterday, I gave it a quick wash -- kind of like a last supper -- and this morning, I brought it in to the dealership. We did the paperwork to transfer it back (which was surprisingly quick and painless), and I left without the car.

A new (auto) era has begun.


I have blogger's block. I have no idea what to write about, and my usually-loquacious self (at least in writing) has run out of things to say. Must fix that somehow.

Birthday Planning

I feel like I'm pretty lucky to have a birthday where my birthday is. I suppose it sounds funny to say that, but there's a method to my madness. (Usually, there's just a lot of madness.)

For instance, consider the birthdays that fall near major holidays -- kind of sucks, doesn't it? Christmas babies, New Years' babies, etc. Their birthdays get somewhat overshadowed by those other celebrations and sometimes lost in the shuffle.

Christmas is a fine example of how people will combine their gifts. My brother's birthday falls near Christmas -- yes, every year, it turns out. And thus he's cursed with havnig combo birthday-xmas gifts -- yes, every year -- and we all know that in these cases, the total isn't always equal the sum of the parts! So he kind of gets gypped in the gift department! In years gone, my sister and I have tried to avoid doing that to him. It sucks, and I sympathize.

And around Christmas and Thanksgiving, you'd be lucky if most of your friends were even still in town to celebrate with you, instead of heading home for the holidays!

I suppose birthdays near Valentine's Day would mean combo events for the couple, but I would hope that wouldn't happen -- there should be a "public" party for the birthday, and another more intimate one for the couple. You shouldn't really skimp out on that.

oh yeah? blow meOne interesting birthday is my high school friend's: June 12. It's not near enough Canada Day or the Fourth of July, so it doesn't sound so bad. Except as students in high school, that period was always busy: everyone was always too nervous about final exams to celebrate with him. And when he becomes a father -- if he hasn't already, I aven't caught up with him recently -- its proximity to Father's Day will also come into play, and he'll again be the recipient of Combo Gifts.

The worst part is that you really have no say in the matter -- you can't really move your birthday to a more convenient date, can you? All I'm saying is that, while you may be relaxing on a Friday, please plan your future children's birthdays carefully, okay?

Net Gains, or Net Losses?

I have to admit that time management and discipline was never one of my strong traits. I wish it weren't true. Though I am improving, I'm not where I want to be yet, and I get pissed at myself for not being better about it.

After all, I'm in the worst situation possible: I have a job.

oops, just dropped my changeSounds strange, but here's why. Having a job is kind of a safety net. We walk the tightrope knowing that if we fall, the net is there, and that net becomes our comfortable minimum. So naturally, we aren't afraid to keep walking that rope. Put us out there with the comfort of such a net, and let us chase our dreams to make things different. Better different. I agree completely with that logic -- our safety net should allow us to venture further with a "homeland" security -- but I'm somehow doing the exact opposite.

We can always "come home" to the 9-to-5 if our ventures out there don't work, right? But instead, what do we do? We don't venture. We say we're too tired from our jobs to do anything else. The Job takes up too much time. The Job makes us depressed, and we need to rest at night to recupe for The Job in the morning.

It's clear that that Job isn't a safety net. It's a net that we bump our heads into. We're not above that Job net; we're beneath it. And that is the problem. We should be mentally (and motivationally) be climbing on the net to use it as safety.

That's why I say that having The Job is worse than, say, not having That Job. Because you have to risk something to gain something: true of investments, true of love, true of almost anything. So, what are you willing to sacrifice? Are you willing to sacrifice The Job? Most of us, much as we say we are, aren't. And we become entrapped by the very Job that we should be trying to escape.

But I see the light now. This all changes very soon. Soon, things will be very changed. And today, as I swap for an upper decade, I see that pieces are in place.

In The Privacy Of ...

What do you do when you're at home, but don't do when you're in public? There are people picking their noses in the privacy of their own cars, somehow believing that we can't see them. (But we can, we really can, though we kind of wish we couldn't.) What do you do that you just prefer to do not in front of people? Let's keep it clean, please. I sometimes sing (badly) at the top of my lungs. Now you.

Uncommon Scents

Ever experience an intense lesson with your nose? You're walking (or driving) along the street and a subtle waft of something in the air peaks your interest. And when you first get that whiff, it's almost like you can't really tell because it might smell like something else. Something you remember really liking, or something that brings you fond memories. Like the little Swedish berry candies you loved so much when you were a kid, and you could always afford at least ten of them with your allowance.

I mean, those are happy childhood memories, and who of us doesn't want to cherish those when the Memory Lane Express comes along unexpectedly? None of us (doesn't), that's who (not). You want more. So you take that second whiff -- a bigger one -- to get more of that, and that's when the full smell hits you. It's not something you like: it's something nasty. Like a pile of dog poo with a candy wrapper blown its way and stuck on it, waving back and forth, pushing its scents your way. And you realize that the air has just executed a carefully planned attacked, waited in the sidelines while you figured out that memory, and then ambushed you.

Sort of like thinking you smell delicious fried eggs with green onions and a little salt (using a non-stick pan and very little oil), and then realizing later, somebody in the rapid transit car just blew a big fart and it wafted your way. Sort of like that.

Except down this particular street, I was ambushed constantly. Car exhaust fumes (is it barbecue?), building HVAC vents (fresh warm buns), sewer pipe water, and the like. You can't get away from it, because you kind of can't not breathe!

May have to purchase one of those goofy-looking SARS mouth cover things. Maybe I'll buy a Gucci one -- not.

Knuckle Sandwich for a Mosquito

I have been attacked. I sport a mosquito bite on my tricep, my right one (your left). I've got a fresh one on my left calf. They itch like hell. Even the two on the inside of my left ankle, which rub against my shoe when I walk.

But the worst one by far, is the one on my left ring finger knuckle. It's constantly irritated because I do put things in my left pocket and I do still bend my fingers. Pretty much everything agitates this damned thing, and it's still bumped up like a blister! Where's the worst place you'd ever gotten a mosquito bite, and what can you buy to make it go away??

Tick Tock

I think my biological clock is ticking. Or maybe I'm just imagining it, because I would expect my biological clock to be digital by now, and digital clocks don't really tick. So maybe the ticking is something else. Hmm.

tick tockAnyway, my biological clock is ticking, and it's wanting me to settle down a little. But my career's not ready for it, and by the same token, all my pieces aren't ready yet either. You think I could maybe put it on hold? Then, maybe it could give me one of those pop-up calendar reminders.

[bling] "You are getting old!"

And then I'll click on "Snooze until 0 hours before getting old."

A biological alarm clock. That's what I should get. Say, do they sell those at Costco?

How's Everything?

So you're sitting at your table, and they serve your food. And then they get you before you have a chance to eat.

"Would you like fresh ground black pepper? Would you like some freshly grated parmesan cheese on it?"

I mean, how would I know? I haven't even tried the food yet; how would I know if I need some extra seasoning or toppings on it??* Don't I have to try some first??

Then your waitress/waiter leaves to tend to other tables, and returns almost immediately to inquire about the food.

"How is everything so far?"
"Well, I haven't touched it yet, but it looks good."

hey there, how may i serve you?I mean, they just want to know if there are any problems. They don't seem to actually care about anything else, like something as irrelevant as if you've even eaten it yet. Maybe it's just part of the service, a headstart on the tip-grovelling work, but it sure doesn't seem to add much value to my restaurant experience, does it?

* I read that in some cultures, it's actually insulting to add spice to the food, because it implies that the chef hasn't made the dish salty / spicy / cheesy enough.

It's In The Water

Notice that none of the bottled water bottles are flat all round? They all have molded shapes or some kind of un-flat structure to them instead of being straight cylinders. I figure this design has two purposes: one is for rigidity and the other for looks.

drink meMaking the bottle rippled means the walls of your beloved bottle become stronger, and won't buckle too easily. Good for you when you're drinking, and good for the company when they're shipping this stuff to you!

But the second reason I think they're rippled / shaped the way they are, is for the look. I figure it's primarily for the way the water flows when it comes out of the bottle. If it were flat, the water would just pour out plainly. The water just looks so refreshing as you tilt the bottle to replenish yourself, even before the water has reached your lips. But with those ripples and angles along the sides of the bottle, it flows out like a clean stream or a babbling brook or a crisp Alaskan river.


We all have our alarm clocks, and we all know that when we're comfy in our beds, many of us sleep through them unless they blaring intrusively annoying sounds into our heads at "just five more minutes" before we're ready to wake up. But I've noticed that people who are sleeping in "active environments" always seem to know when to wake up, like in moving vehicles, for example.

Like, when you're driving someone and they fall asleep riding in the car. I mean, there's some mysterious alarm clock that rings in their heads, because they always seem to wake up when you get home. Why is that?? What makes this happen? It's almost foolproof, really. I used to think it was related to having the car stop, and maybe their bodies would sense the stop in motion, but they don't wake when you come to every stoplight. So that couldn't be it. And plus, sometimes they even wake up as you happen to be driving into the parking lot or onto your street or whatever, before you get home, and you're just approaching!

Like when I'm on a plane, I have the special ability to sleep through everything. Everything. (It must be a recessive gene that was passed down from generation to generation. One day, it may come in useful when playing dead around a grizzly or something.) I can sleep through the flight, even take-off and landing. I can get onto the plane, put my food and water where I want it, slap the seatbelt on, watch other people are settling into their seats, and I'm out within 10 minutes. Then I wake up, and we're already in the air!

But there's one thing that I just can't seem to sleep through when I'm jetset: the food. When the food comes, I somehow serendipitously awaken. Dunno why. Sometimes when the cart is at my row, sometimes when the lady is about to pour the tray all over my lap, or even to pass me over and serve my neighbour. Without fail, I could be in dreamy dreamland, and the food comes and I'm awake to eat it! Then, of course, when I'm done ... another 10 minutes and I'm out like a light again (albeit I am a rather dim bulb even when on).

I'm sure this is a genetic feature as well. Like back in the caveman days when those hairy hunchbacked half-apes would be sleeping and sleeping until a mammoth rumbled by and keeled over near their cave. Then they'd skin it, eat it, and go back to sleep until the next mammoth did that. Same deal.

The Tipping Point

After nearly a year, I'm finally making my way to the bottom of that Costco pack of Q-Tips. So after nearly 500 Q-Tips, I'm finally publicly posing the question: what is proper cotton swabbing technique? *

i think i'll go with white todayThat is, what is your Q-tip technique? How often do you de-wax your earholes, and how many do you (have to) use each time? What angles do you insert at, and how far in? Do you swirl it around while rotating, or just roll it around the outside?

* You heard it here first! We cover only the latest high-impact breaking news articles!

A Thought For My Pennies

So I went to pick up my first non-prescription "prescription sunglasses": the Oakley X-Metal Penny. (It's amazing what some Asian places will do to help you get cheap stuff.)

i can see myself in them!I have a tough time finding Oakley models that fit my narrow face, while matching the style that I want. So when I do come across one that fits these criteria, I have pretty narrowed it down to a single frame, and only have the choice of colour (frame, lenses). Sucks, but I'm usually happy that at least there's one that works out.

Anyway, they said it would take a week, and I gave them the balance (that VSP wouldn't cover) and waited. A day short of a week, I showed up to see if they were ready. They were. They never called, like they promised to -- but then, they never do, do they?

I suspiciously eyed these $340 sunglasses that I got for not-$340. You never know with these seemingly non-ghetto Asian places. And though it doesn't really matter that much to me, I suppose they got the last laugh: when I picked up my new (non-)prescription Pennies, they were the demo pair I had tried on one week earlier.

I mean, there's nothing really wrong with the demos except for a tiny little bump on the underside of the left X Metal arm (which I specifically noticed when I placed my order). But if I'm going to get the demos, then why make me wait a whole week for them, and why pose as if I would be getting new ones? Set the expectations after all. And though I got a good discount on them, it's not like they were making less money than before.

If it bugs me enough, I may just go back and b!tch about it. (I think I secretly enjoy doing this, giving them a hard time as my little sweet revenge.)

Deciding Factor

A conversation I just had made me think whether I would change my decision because of one particular factor, if asked to. I know this is something I need to do for myself, and yet, am I hopelessly romantic enough to throw it all away at a whim? Maybe after I'm done doing this for myself, I can consider returning to this position and seeing if something could be rekindled. (And it's not what you're thinking: it's not about heR.)

50 First Dates

I thought of something the other night. If you ever go on a first date with someone, never ever order anything that has squid ink in it. Yes, people actually cook / eat dishes with this stuff in it. But prior to last night, my only exposure to this inky food flavouring additive was by watching Iron Chef.

The stuff is black. I mean, it's really black. It blackens everything that it gets cooked with, making the whole dish blacker than black, which is likely why they call it squid ink. Had they not, I figure they would have left it as "squid urine" or something more indicative of what this liquid really is. (That, and I'm sure nobody would ever want to eat "squid pee".)

And yet, it's surprising that a substance with such an un-appetizing appearance doesn't really have a strong taste. It's a rather subtle flavour, even if it looks like the paella was completely charred and burnt in the pan. But after a few bites, I admit that I couldn't get over that look.

Not even touching on the fact that it makes your teeth look like you haven't ever brushed your teeth in your life, and your tongue looks like you've just sucked on a lump of coal. And even if you wanted to clean that up at the table, I don't think swishing and gargling with your wine / sangria / water is going to go over well with your first date watching you.

Just a warning before it ever happens to any of you.

Dumping Dumplings

I like dumplings. Fried, steamed, boiled, steeped in soup, I love them all. They're like these nicely packaged, delicious little bite-sized meals; how clever is that??

But as with all good things, you can overdo it. Sometimes they soften too much, and they break. I hate it when dumplings splatter their innards all over inside my soup. Their guts are strewn in it, making what used to be a nice clear broth into a murky soup with meat/veggie/noodle bits.

At those times, I like dumplings not-so-much.

Leader of the Pack

I guess it must be flu season now, because I'm always the first to get sick. Every season. It's like I'm the beacon to announce the opening of flu season or something; everybody can just watch me and when I get sick, they know to get their flu shots! I'm like the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange. Without the celebrity, or the news coverage, or the crazy stocks people. Or the joyous fanfare, for that matter.

Except, this season, a coworker is at a tie with me. Sounds sadistic, but yay! Misery really does love company.

So I stuck around the apartment for the whole day today, in the hopes of not getting my coworkers sick. Pumped myself full of drugs and vitamin C and fluids, moping around the house all drowsy, and falling asleep just about every time my eyes close for more than 5 seconds. Are we sure it's good for me to be stewing in my own sickness in the apartment all day? I think I probably should have headed out to the grassy area to surf on my laptop and enjoy the sun.

Oh well, too late. Here I stew. Stew stew stew.

Dress to Impress

It's Monday, start of the workweek (again). So ... how do you dress for work?

Full-on suit (gold pocketwatch & chain optional)?
Shirt & tie (or whatever the female equivalent is)?
Business casual? Slacks (no jeans) and a dress shirt (or polo)?
Even casual? T-shirt and jeans and sneakers?
Sloppy? As in shorts and sandals, weather permitting?

dunno what year THIS was fromThere's always the professionalism vs comfort tradeoff in every workplace; some will permit more casual, others less. There's also that certain balance between what the officeplace will dictate, and what you can get away with.

I used to come to work in shirt&tie all the time, mostly because the other managers (including mine) had that. Lasted two weeks, and I started to notice that I could get away with just a shirt and slacks. And then golf shirts with cords were seemingly okay (ie. no reprimands from above). I kept pushing it, but have never crossed the jeans-as-everyday-wear line -- maybe Thursday and Friday, or any days I have to do grub work, but that's about it. And that's my limit at this company.

But you aren't born with that knowledge; and it's not the same at every company. So I get a kick out of watching "the new guy" in a shirt-n-tie on the Monday, and then realize that none of the other engineers are like that. It makes it really easy to spot him/her out. It only takes that one day to see this: come Tuesday, he's in the mainstream shirts and jeans.

Message from the Subconscious

Sometimes blog topics come across me that I just need to quickly write down as a draft before they fall right back out of my head. (Those of you with blogs will know this happens all the time: you come across many topics you'd like to blog about, but when you sit down at Blogger, you got blogger's block.)

So here's one that I just found again. And I can't for the life of me figure out what I was talking about, let alone turn it into a fun blog for your Friday morning.

dreamt that i could havebeen an fbi.
but I wasn't a US citizen, otherwise they could have hired me.
passed all the tess and impressed the hiring uy

went on emergency task, they reanout of regular bi guys

Maybe I was watching SWAT the night before or something. I dunno. Happy Friday.

Right Back Atcha

I like amusing myself with hypothetical situations. And so do you. (Yes, you do.) So, here's one.

Let's say you see a bug while you're peeing at the toilet. And it's close to you, like you spot it right beside your left foot, really close, like it-could-just-lean-over-and-lick-your-toe close. Never mind whether you freak out, quiver all over, and scream like a schoolgirl, alerting your roommates -- let's get over that moment, please.

And it's a scary-looking bug. I mean, there are bugs, and there are bugs. Like ladybugs are not scary; one might even venture to say they're kind of cute. And they eat aphids, which I understand is a good thing for your mom's prize rosebush, all at the nice cost of free. So that's totally not scary.

But there are those sinister-looking bugs that have mandibles shaped like the sickle of the grim reaper, or have those freaky blade-like jaws that could probably snap tree trunks in half if they were our size. Sometimes, it just needs a fork tail following it along to make it seem dangerous, even if the fork tail does nothing but help its backmost legs stay on the ground. Heck, the fork could even be soft as hairs, but damn, it still looks frightening, doesn't it?

So anyway, it's a scary looking bug with the blade-jaw and the fork-tail, and probably some kind of aftermarket body kit on it. (I think I even read "HKS" on the side. Not too sure, because it was pretty small.)

Back to you. You keep an eye on that scary bug while you finish your pee, making sure he's not planning on climing your foot. Then you grab a few squares of toilet paper and fashion them into a nice cushion that will come between your hand and the bug.

Now, the approach. Let's say you try a few practice squashes in the air just above him -- like you're practicing a putt on the green before stepping up to the ball for the real putt. You nab him, give a quick squeeze and chuck the little guy right into your pee water, quick as lightning.

The main fear here would be that he might quickly crawl over to the other side of your TP cushion and on your hand. And then all fear will break loose, and you'll probably pee your pants and shake your hand furiously as if it were on fire. But that's not about to happen, because the little bug is pretty shocked at his sudden predicament, little legs flailing about, stuck under the very toilet paper square you caught him with. Chances are, you're feeling rather superior right now because you've bested another species -- proof again that we're just higher up the food chain. So you bask in this momentary glory and watch as he tries to escape.

Then you flush. And this toilet-paper-draped, pee-marinated bug swirls into a vortex of copper piping, into somewhere far far away.

So let's say, just say, for argument's sake, just for sh!ts and giggles, that all of the above happened to you. Stay with me here, even just for the purpose of our amusement.

Would he come back out of the toilet a few nights later, seeking revenge on you?

The Student Becomes The Teacher

It was three years ago I stepped into this office as "the new guy". Three years of not being particularly happy with my job, and finally realizing while there were neat things to learn and play with here, that it would eventually lead me nowhere upwards.

Yesterday, the tables turned.

um ... yeah ...You'd think that having an extra person around to do my bidding and my work would make life easier around here. You'd think it would take the load off a little, ease my responsibilities. It will eventually, but it hasn't yet. In fact, I kind of feel more loaded, because now I'm responsible for two people. I have the load of two people to consider, to manage, all that.

And I vy that I don't become the boss I had before; I want to be continually concerned with the job satisfaction of my new underling, to be able to keep motivated and elevate the level of excitement in the workplace. It's my job now to make sure this place has the kind of culture and environment I'd want to work in.

It's a strange feeling to realize that I'm really training my replacement. On purpose.

The Next Best Thing

I was cruisin' in the mall last night, turned the corner past the kids with their brand new custom teddy bears and their cheap plastic Sanrio goodies, and there it was. A little kiosk. But it wasn't your typical kiosk with little trinkets or watches or hairpieces or cellphones or imitation jewellery, or even those wind-up helicopters that fly up 20ft and then return to the high-school part-time saleskid.

lookit me, lookit me!No, this one had the good stuff. It was an ASUS kiosk, with their newest line of portable computing devices (mainly notebooks and PDAs). And there I saw their flagship notebook computer in all its glory, shining under the sparkling kiosk spotlight: the Asus W1N. This is the machine I would have bought, if I hadn't gotten my Powerbook. It's the only thing in the Windows world that has even come close to the Powerbook's elegance, in terms of presentation -- and even then, it has a fair ways to go before it matches Apple.

I measured my outspread hand diagonally across the screen.

"15 inch widescreen."
"Actually, it's 15.4."

No sh!t, Sherlock -- practically all widescreens in the 15" range are 15.4", save the 15.2" Powerbook. As if that 0.4" would be the tipping point between considering the purchase and dumping my money on the table to get it immediately.

I started playing with the machine, running my fingers over her chassis and examining the design of it all. And then, the fun part. He started touting features, listing acronyms like they were going out of style, trying to sound real important. I don't know why the saleskid bothered to do that. I mean, what was this, Future Shop or Best Buy or something?? Sure, it's great to rattle geektalk off like that, but you're not the only one who knows that. Could he not tell, by the way I was oggling the details, that I might already have a clue?? (I'm no expert, but I know a thing or two.) Ignoring him, I turned my attention to the various ports on the side.
"Oh, it has Firewire," I noticed.
"Yes, IEEE 1394 or Firewire."
"400 or 800?"

He drew a blank. I'll bet the thought had crossed his mind to repeat "1394" again, but it was good he didn't.
"And wow, it has an audio line-out too? And optical out! Very nice," as I fawned over the marvel.
"What's this port here? I've never seen that before."

Still nothing. He just smiled and handed me a pamphlet of the W1N and said I could see all the specs on that. Not even 30 seconds, and he threw in the towel already. Sometimes, it's better to say nothing at all. Especially if opening your mouth shows you know nearly nothing about the products you're selling, beyond what you just memorized.

(By the way, it's a really nice machine, but at $2400, I have no regrets about getting my Powerbook. Asus notebooks are only available through their distributors Central Computers at the moment.)

Dream Interwoven

You ever watch a movie where things are somehow conveniently available during your dire times of need? Kind of like in that Ben Affleck movie Paycheck, where he armed himself with the things he would need, and he didn't even know it. I had a dream like that last night.

run, forest, run!I was just moseying along, Then suddenly, They* were after me for something I had allegedly done. Every corner I turned, I found something that would help me get that much further away from Them. Like a book that happened to be on the counter where I was. Or that a cord hanging lots of heavy objects was perfectly within reach, and useful as an impromptu boobytrap. Now, each encounter to another well-placed item didn't seem terribly strange (and you don't really have time to consider that when you're still trying to escape your captors), but I did take careful note of it. This "act" in my dream lasted only a few action-packed minutes.

Then, a flashback -- yeah, a flashback in my dream! (Talk about fancy movie-scripting abilities all in my head!) And suddenly, it was maybe earlier in that same day. And it was all about the general, casual events that were happening, things I was doing in a nearly-normal day while trying to stay out of trouble. Funny thing was, if I happened to be in a certain place, and I didn't need my book, I threw it on the counter ... and suddenly, I took careful notice of that book again, remembering that I would somehow need it later in the day (because I already saw that future in "act one"). Crazy? It was like Reverse Deja-Vu! The whole "dreamday" was filled with such nuances; it just got crazier and crazier how perfect everything seemed to fit in. Every few minutes, I would have one of those "oohhhh" moments, like when you find out that Bruce Willis is actually already dead in Sixth Sense.**

My dream never really explained why I was being chased by Them in the first place, but that's beside the point. What is most interesting is that my mind had somehow concocted this elaborate labyrinthical storyline by itself. That my little brain had, while I was sleeping, created this intriguingly twisty tale all by itself. Or maybe I'm just nuts. I had considered, as soon as I woke up, writing all of it down to turn into a short film script; but eh, was too lazy.

* I suppose They are the huge faceless, nameless, all-powerful organization that all movie protagonists are fighting against, without really knowing why. All we know is that They have some mysterious motives and a grander plan that clearly involves the snuffing-out of our Hero.
** Sorry for anyone who hasn't seen that movie yet. Actually, you know what? I'm not sorry. It's a good movie, and you should have seen it by now.

That Didn't Hurt At All

I stood there with my dress shirt pulled up some inches, and my pants pulled down the same distance to expose the bare skin on my right hip. His inquisitive face was very close. Almost uncomfortably close. But hey, we're adults, and he's a professional.

why you should wear shoes when walking in dark slummy alleys"We can try an injection of cortizone to the spots where you need the scar to reduce, or we can use a topical cortizone," he suggested.
"What do you suggest? It's been a year since the appendectomy. What's the best way to do this?" I asked, relying on his years of experience.
"We may as well go with the injection; it's simple and results are faster."
"Is it terribly painful?"
"Oh, it won't hurt me a bit," he replied with a grin.

It must be one of those jokes that doctors all over the world have used before, and probably with almost every single patient they have. Dentists probably know that joke too, but for some reason, I don't think the people seeing the dentists would find it quite as funny. But as much as I knew it was an old well-repeated joke, I had to chuckle. (Hey, it was funny.)

I lay there on the padded bed thing, and he donned the latex gloves, ready to attack my appendectomy scar. I felt a gentle poking at four distinct points along the length of my scar, but I couldn't strain to see it, for fear of stressing my belly area during the injection. And magically, after those probes, he stepped away. It was amazing, so painless, so easy-breezy-beautiful. I had great new-found respect for my dermatologist!

"That wasn't it, was it?"

"No, that was me and my magic pen, marking off where to inject. And applying a little alcohol on the surface." He wheeled around to the side table, and got the needle, punctured the sealed canister, and loaded it up. Turning to my scar, he announced, "Okay, now we're ready to get started."

Let me tell you this: cortizone injections hurt like a mutha.

Shake, Rattle, and Roll

Whoa. Earthquake.

Just a little one, with kind of a side-to-side, circular motion. Neat. Lasted maybe 5 seconds. If I were walking in the office during that time, I would have missed it. Our controller said, "Oh, it was? I thought it was just me."

Epicenter was 136mi south of San Jose, and 4mi underground. Details are still updating at the moment, and haven't been reviewed by a seismologist yet. But you can see that there have been several minor tremors in the past week or so (Gilroy is an hour south of me).

Oh well, back to work.

Ask a Stupid Question ...

I don't really enjoy having interviews -- all that nervousness, trying to make a good impression, trying to come off as an intelligent human being -- it just doesn't do well for someone like me. But more than that, I hate conducting interviews.

My biggest issue is what questions to ask. I already have a resume (and sometimes cover letter) in front of me, so I know what their on-paper credentials are. In a face-to-face, I want to get into the heads of those people, to see what their personalities are, and how they might work with our existing teams.

I hate asking/answering those silly cookie-cutter questions; I want something different. If you ask one of those boring standard questions, you're going to get a boring standard answer that's possibly been rehearsed, but always always always comes out sounding spun.

"What would you say is your biggest weakness?"
"Oh, hmmm ... well ... my friends say I'm too dedicated to my job, and I sometimes work too hard."

"What would your previous coworkers say about you?"
"They would probably say that I'm very hardworking, meticulous and pay attention to detail, and that I'm really a team player."

Excellent! You hit all the keywords I was looking for, so you get a 5 out of 5! Good for you! Instead, we need to find a different approach to getting at the real person. Some creative questions that feel more like discussions and less like tests -- putting the interviewee at ease is the first step towards getting genuine readings on their character.

If you need some serious problem-solving abilities, I've heard of companies that put you in a room, give you a problem and tell you to solve it in X minutes. Great. How lovely. But how about spruciing it up a little, with a question like ...

"If a train leaves Boston at 45mph, and another train leaves Chicago going at 60mph, what colour shirt do you think would go best with these pants?"

We could even twist those "what if" scenario-type questions, to see how they'd react in adverse interpersonal situations.

"What would you do if your coworker was taking credit for work that you had done?"
"What would you do if an irate customer demanded something immediately, something that you can't deliver?"
"What would you do if I slapped you like this?"

I've learned that when I conduct interviews, they're casual and laid-back, but professional. I'd rather it be a conversation, because it's as much the person interviewing the company as it is vice versa. The fit has to work both ways, or else that working relationship won't work. And I'm getting better at it! I wish all my interviews were like the ones I conduct -- job seeking would be way cooler and more fun.

* Here's a funny coincidence: From my shortlist of roughly 12 to 15 applicants, our CEO picked out 3 names to interview. The inadvertent coincidence: all female.

Random Readers

I blog about crap. All sorts of crap. And a whole lot of it, at that. Hey, it's okay. It's no secret. I'm man enough to admit that most of my blog is just useless banter and garbage.

now ... where are those ants?What's interesting is that people visit, read the first paragraph, and I can almost see their expressions right away. Kind of a, "Seriously? You took the time to blog about this??" And yet, I'll bet most of those visitors will continue and finish reading the blog entry anyhow. Dunno why. (Maybe you just really like reading about doodies.)

In any case, here is a short history of the web searches that eventually lead random people to read my spewing. It's all over the place.

Altavista: tenderizing ribs
Yahoo: swish fluoride
Yahoo: sit ubu sit, good dog
Yahoo: difference between chinos khakis
Yahoo: volleyball+wedgy
MSN Search: pictures of chicken tofu burgers
Yahoo: little bumps on triceps
Google: FEDEX SHANGHAI CN Left FedEx Origin Location
Google: confirm yes no
Yahoo: Mario Winan lyrics
Yahoo: eating mooncake
Yahoo: tenderize ribs
Altavista: kfee commercial
Yahoo: alias bluetooth headset
Google: azn blog
Yahoo: asianavenue html decoder

It's not in this list, but sometimes people actually search for my blog by name. I hope they're not stalkers. Unless they want to bestow me with expensive gifts (and then leave immediately). Then that would be kind of nice.

Dream A Little Dream

okay, okay, here are my late fees. i promise to return the book on time next time.Sometimes it's fun to dream about The Good LifeTM (above and beyond the good life you might already have).

If you were rich, what would you do with the money (in order of preference)? Buy what things and why? Go where and do what? If money is no object, what becomes the object then?

Dream on, people!

Spam Analysis

Apparently, this dude is fascinated with his junk mail enough to plot out his traffic of spam! And he had to keep all his spam messages since the dawn of dinosaurs to make these graphs! Kind of neat to see, really.

I mean, I hate spam, and I contribute regularly to my Cloudmark SpamNet as well as to my company's corporate spam algorithm. But I ain't keepin' them around just for fun later on! That's a lot of wasted space!

Anyway, sorry for not having a more amusing blog for you on this fine Monday morning.

Geeking Out

So here I am, just got into the Pleasanton Apple Store grand opening. For the 55-minute wait, I get a free T-shirt, and a close-up glimpse with the new iMac G5. I also get a joking reprimand from one of the Apple Store employees for taking so many photos of the glorious machine.

I'll hang around here for a little while longer, chat with the Genius Bar (aka Nerd Bar) about an issue I've had, and then go have a coffee. I deserve it. I think I've geeked out enough for the whole weekend, in this one hour!


can't you see? there's a sticker that says 'fragile'!Today, a short tribute to my sister. She's heading far west to get to the Far East. Returning to where her ancestry is, in hopes of securing a future. Back to the motherland, but away from her mother. It takes courage to move away from home and everything comfortable and familiar, let alone to another where the native language isn't yours. Best of luck.

Next Blog!

"Next blog!", it advertised. And upon succumbing to the temptation and clicking on the link, I stumbled across Pearls of Wisdom. It's contributed to by three girls -- I would imagine they're a couple of kids in college or something around that age. These short quips and one-liner quotes are always good for a laugh.

There was even another blog called "Unrequisited Love on the Blue Line", about a guy who writes about the attractive women he sees on some subway / train line every day in Chicago. Kind of neat, in a freaky creepy stalker killer-trying-to-come-out kind of way. It's no longer online. Maybe he got caught.

What If ...

Let's for the moment consider the following hypothetical situation. You're at Costco, and you eye a 1lb vacuum-packed bag of razor-thin sliced pastrami. It looks delicious. You get those little cooked food images in your eyes like they have in the cartoons when the guy is hungry and sees a live chicken. I mean, it looks so delicious, you think it's practically got "EAT ME" on it.

And hell, at $7.99 for some awesome pastrami, why not. Especially since you don't know what the going rate for pastrami is anyhow -- it could be normally $14.99, and you're getting a heckuva deal! Could be. So let's say you -- remember, hypothetically speaking now -- can't turn down such an awesome deal which you have admittedly conjured up in your head. So you pick this bag up and take it home.

What would you put in your potential pastrami sandwich to make it the best pastrami sandwich ever?

Please hurry with your suggestions, because the hypothetical pastrami has an imaginary sell-by date of November 2004.


Let's see. In the past month, ...

General downturned mood.
Lost roughly 7lb of muscle mass.
Loss of healthy appetite.
Not watching what I eat now.
Nosebleeds every other day.
Mild headaches occasionally.
Losing the will to workout.
Not really excited by anything.

I'm no medical expert, but that can't be good, right?

Writer's Block

why's everybody always picking on me?It's Friday, and I don't know what to blog about. What should be our topic of amusement for today? (Besides me, I mean. I'm somehow always the topic of other people's amusement.)

PS. If you do an image search for "clown" on Google, you'll see why so many kids are scared of clowns -- half of them are scary!


So I took this brain usage profiler test, and it told me ...

Auditory : 60%
Visual : 40%
Left : 55%
Right : 44%

This is interesting, since I always thought of myself as more a visual person than auditory. I can't say much about the left / right distribution, because ... well, because I keep forgetting which side does what. (Evidently, neither side of my brain really does that much. Mostly, you can hear the sounds of crickets and wind going in my head.)

Confirm? Yes/No.

Theft is prevalent nowadays: stolen credit cards, identity theft, online scamming, you name it. You have to watch your back, and today's systems have built-in checks for you to confirm and have a chance to deny / dispute any transactions before they're cast in stone.

When you're at the supermarket and paying by credit card, they run up your groceries on the till. Beep-beep-beep as the produce flies by, carefully weighed on the scale with the bar code reader, and your eyes are glued to the scrolling screen to make sure they don't pull a fast one on you. And, of course, to check that you're getting that member's special discounted club price for those items, which is the whole reason you drag that thick club card with you which is no good for anything else other than getting you that second 4L tub of ice cream for $2 less.

swipe here, with your card oriented in the exact opposite way of how you do it the first timeYou get a total on the screen, and you swipe your credit card through the reader. (Note that your card never has to leave your own hands, eliminating the opportunity of crooked clerks making a second imprint to duplicate it.)

Processing, please wait ...

You carefully put your card back in your wallet/purse and the total comes up on the little LCD.

$15.23. Confirm? Yes / No.

This is (obviously) to make sure that the number they plan to charge on your card is the same as you saw flashing up on their colour monitor, so you don't have $15.23 in groceries and have them charge you $105.23 on the card instead with the clerk pocketing $90.

But before you've even had a chance to look at the number and process that it's right -- heck, even if you have agreed that the price is right, you're still looking for the YES button, because it's usually had the word worn off it and you have to guess at the button only because it's next to the NO. And it doesn't help that they don't make it green and red for YES and NO -- they're grey like everything else on the keypad. And the green button is ENTER, which doesn't register as a YES.

I mean, what's the point of letting me check it, if they're not going to let me check it easily?? Anyway, before you've had any opportunity to work through any of these things, the impatient 99 Ranch clerk reaches across the machine and presses YES for you.

... and that's when I got really mad. Everything that happened was a blur, Your Honour.


It's too damned hot. If I left a steak out in the sun today, it probably could have seared itself. I'm sweating from parts of my body that I didn't even know could sweat. A dip in the pool tomorrow is warranted.

My Digits

"My number area code six oh four, five five five, eighteen thirty-one."

It was another time I regretted saying it that way, as I watched him scribble out his mistake. I mean, I could have said it either of two ways: digit by digit, or in two sets of double-digits.


tommy tutone says to call jenny at 867-5309You'd think it wouldn't matter. And it doesn't, for the most part. But back then, I had one of a few special numbers that celebrated world-renowned numberologists refer to as "confusion phone digits". By celebrated world-renowned numberologists, I mean nobody: nobody calls it that. But that's what they are, because they're phone digits that cause confusion. (Try to keep up.)

And somehow, I found this combination of digits easier to say as "eighteen thirty-one" than "one eight three one". Could be the "three" part immediately on the tail of the "eight", I dunno. But invariably, I watch the person copy my number like this.

Or 1831.

And then they glare at me, as if I had said "five five five, eight ... teen thirty-one" and laughing at them while they had to correct their mistake.

Extra Caution, It's Red

I don't really know why, but bugs -- particularly the flying variety -- are just scarier looking when they're red. I mean, black ones (especially those buzzing hear your eyes / ears) are a little freaky, but red ones? No contest. I bet the red ones were the jocks / bullies in Fly High School.

That Face

Hahaha, I love seeing that mosquito face and the whole act around it. You know, the one people make when a mosquito suddenly appears right beside your face?

Far as I can remember, it's like this.

You're sitting or standing or whatever, minding your own business. You think you're aware of your surroundings, but something quickly proves you wrong: a mosquito (or bee or fly) comes into your peripheral vision. Heck, sometimes you don't even see it, and you just hear close-up buzzing next to one ear. Either way, you don't like it, and you don't want it, whatever it is.

First reaction? Recoil.

Survival instincts make you retreat from the unknown danger, and protect all your orifices. You only turn slightly to get a look at it, but not all the way to face it bravely. And you get these squinty eyes (protect the eyes), and your shoulder comes up (block the ear) while you rapidly wave the intruder away with your hands. Finally, though quite a ways away, your mouth shuts down and you go tight-lipped.

It's funny, but your eyes help out too: some people furiously bat their eyelids to help accelerate that air flow. I mean, I can't imagine a lot of help from that, when really it would do more good to blow at it instead.

Now with the West Nile scare, you'll probably want to hone your skills in this. Try practicing it now: do 3 sets of 12 reps. Yes, even if your boss is nearby; unless he has a better way to protect yourself without chemicals.

ThA BeZZi blog EvvA!

Fruits of the "next blog" button (top right).

aZn prYDE 4eVAI have no idea how someone could read this blog, let alone write this way. Clearly, the educational system is not what it used to be; this is an obvious indication that we shouldn't be cutting educational funds any further.

SuP, boiZ* "bezzi" is apparently a little-known synonym for "best"

Do You ... Haiku?

Bored on a Friday,
waiting for time to pass by.
Time to leave here yet?

Big yellow Hummer.
It's parked outside my window,
ruining my view.

Instant messaging
consumes much of my time here
in the office place.

Writing in haikus
is really a lot of fun!
Will you try some, please?

Five, seven, and five
syllables go on each line,
They don't have to rhyme.

The Order of Things

take root beer and ice cream. combine ingredients. serve.Okay, let's say you're making a root beer float. Pretty simple, right? Just two ingredients: root beer, and vanilla ice cream. But when you make it, which do you put in the glass first, and which goes in second/after? Why?

* Incidently, I highly recommend Henry Weinhard root beer with "Draught Style Head", brewed by the Blitz-Weinhard company up on Oregon. Good for drinking, awesome for root beer floats. Available at Costco!

Voicemail Top 40

Gosh, remember when we used to record songs on our cell/pager voicemail messages, and people who wanted to leave a message with us would have to endure listening to a chorus of whatever the latest song playing in our heads was?

(Aside, San Diego is gorgeous, even if I was only there for a day of meetings.)

Not Here

I woke up this morning with a frightening realization: I'm not where I want to be in my life. Not mentally, not financially, not emotionally. And my first thought was to run to hEr and tell hEr everything, hoping that I could get my life back on track.

No Motion Sensors Here

When people play video games, they can really get into it. They get engrossed in the game, completely immersed in the alternate reality of the moment. They get warm. They push the buttons real hard. They get frantic with the joystick.

i like it when you push my buttonsI mean, the general mechanics of the game controller are quite simple. There's typically a button for each function -- one to shoot, one to jump, directions for turning / looking, whatever. And sometimes one of things that vibrates when you crash your racecar. But that's about it.

So I get a kick out of watching people play and expect other magical things to happen when they use the controller. Like when they're turning left around a hairpin turn, and their whole bodies lean left, their controllers are way left, and tilted almost sideways.

You know what I'm talking about. Heck, you've probably done it before too. Like when you need your superhero character to leap higher than they've ever leapt before. And with every press of that jump button, you "jump" your controller.

As if the controller could secretly feel that motion you're doing. "Jump. Like this. No, higher, you stupid controller! Like this!" Maybe it's some kind of tension measurement in the wire -- it can feel your controller cord looping and swinging or something. Either way, the magic kicks in.

left, dammit, LEFT"Oh, I see. They want to turn left. I can tell by the angle they're holding the controller at, that they want to turn a little harder. Even harder left turn?? Okay!"

And then some people take their physical involvement to the extremes -- I can't tell you how many times I've seen people turning videogame racetrack corners, only to fall over on their sides ... and still try to recover.

Snoop Girly Girl

A while back, I went to see "Little Black Book", which is a movie about what a girl discovers when urged (by her evil friends) to go through her boyfriend's PDA while he's away on business. In short, it's about how she goes psycho in a tsunami of distrust in her man.

I've heard of such things happening. I know of people who will check their partners' emails and call logs in the suspicion that something's happening behind their backs. More often than not, it's the girl who (in some sort of emotional fury) is snooping in her boyfriend's stuff, but it definitely goes both ways.

my precioussss ...This movie struck a chord with me, and I still don't understand the thoughts that must be going through one's head as they embark on that witch hunt.

What are they hoping to get out of it? Clearly, they think something is there, and they hope to find it, to uncover the scandal within. And when they do, all hell will break loose:
- there will be a verbal fisticuffs, much drama
- they will cut the other person off
- the relationship will end
- they will be better off by themselves, happy ending and all that good stuff

Great plan. Except I see it as a self-fulfilling prophecy, based on the personalities that typically come into this situation. This person (let's for convenience's sake label this as a "her") starts on a quest that seems relatively harmless at first, but she suspects him of things. Evil things. Bad things. Sometimes these are founded, sometimes they're not. Either way, there is probably little benefit of doubt granted here. And when an initial search turns up nothing, the mentality isn't that "there is nothing to hide", but rather ...

"No no, I know it's there. Something's fishy. I just haven't found it. I'm probably not looking hard enough; must try harder. Oh, I'll find it."

This cycle doesn't seem to end. It just goes on, driving our little friend deeper and deeper into this craziness. Soon, she becomes literally desperate to find something to sabotage the relationship with -- it's almost as if she wants let hell break loose.

What does it stop? When she's convinced that she's found something. The smoking gun. That "undeniable evidence" that really is deniable, and possibly could be easily explained, except that she's already decided beforehand that it's unrefutable evidence. So either way, the judge has ruled. Whatever the questionable evidence was, it has indeed created a major rift between the two, made for an heated turn of events, the end of a relationship, and perhaps a contract to sell the rights of such a story to a major movie production company.

Great. Did the snooper win? Or is everyone left heartbroken? And what was the point again? Tell me a story you've heard about such an event, or please offer something from the "other side" as to why this all happens. I don't get it.

A Different Kind of Boat

Friends. We (almost) all have them. They share in many aspects of our lives, as we share in theirs. But a question crept up on me the other day: what really makes a friendship? What forges these connections? What is it that bonds us together as friends?

Is it the time that you shared in the past? Like getting to know each other through school? I have friends that share nothing in my life today, but with whom I had close experiences with in the past -- school, work, whatever. And today, I have very limited correspondence with them -- maybe once a month or so, and short spurts at that. What is it that keeps me feeling like their are still close to my heart? Is it just the history of our crossing paths? Because there are many people who have come into my life and left just as abruptly, and I wouldn't think of them anywhere near the "friend" status.

Or how about friendships borne from some common experiences you are going through? Like a support group, or moving from Canada to the Bay Area, for instance. I certainly have some of those (though a lot more are simply acquaintances, really). I rarely see most of them, and some of them I barely even talk to. But when I do, it's like there isn't much distance between us, even if I don't necessarily know what's going on in their lives. (Imagine a continual game of catch-up.)

Or can friendships come from just the convenience of repeatedly being in the same place at the same time? What is it that welds our paths together in spot points?



Like the Wind

Wow, online shopping outbound logistics in the US is really getting good, particularly in the automated processes! Fulfillment happens so quickly nowadays; see how fast this latest package got to me!

08.11 0217p - SPARKS NV - ORIGIN SCAN
08.11 0219p - Fernley NV - SHIPPED

it's like a little plastic alien bug. that does 802.11g.The shipping was literally overnight, and heck, it was SuperSaver (free) shipping from! (Never mind that they took a while to send it out after I ordered last Friday.) So now, my toy has a new friend, yay!* Hope they play well together!

* After spending so much on a notebook computer, these accessories and stuff are starting to feel less impactful on my wallet. My poor credit card is still smoking.

Whoa, Close One!

Okay, enough. I have to bring this up. You ever see how close the actors talk in the movies? You know, when they're talking about something one-on-one. I mean, they're looking straight at each other, and their faces are just a foot apart! Seriously, who talks so close? I mean, I understand it's done like that for the framing of the scene/shot, but still.

Try this: hold your face just 12" (30cm) away from your monitor (yes, this one). Pretty damned close, eh? Now imagine that's a person's face (to whom you are not attracted).

That's too close for comfort, I'd say. Makes everybody's face look widescreen. Heck, you can barely even focus your eyes for very long like that. For me, that's clearly in the invading-my-private-space zone. At that closeness, you are probably going to be very conscious suddenly about all your bodily odours (and hoping they don't exist).

Learning the Ropes

Some things, they just don't teach in school. And they should. About a friend's kid:

"Hey, C, you need to teach your son how to pee properly. He's doing it wrong! He stands there at the toilet, does his business, and then shakes the last drops off ... all over his pants."

Sort of an Flush Angry Red

Speaking of Chinese food, I intentionally left out a key representative item because it deserved its own posting. It's that mysterious glowy red sweet-n-sour sauce.

I don't even know where to buy that sauce! Maybe Safeway has some in the "ethnic foods" aisle. Maybe Ranch 99 (T&T Supermarket) has it. If I tried to buy some there, would they see that I'm Asian, yell at me for asking, and then kick me out of the store in disgust? Would the older ladies in that sauce aisle give me dirty looks and whisper amongst themselves and point at me behind my back, appalled at why my parents didn't raise me properly to know that that sauce isn't really intended for us?

I think Crayola should name that red and put it in their next box set: Sweet-and-Sour-Sauce Red.

Jet Set Beauty

hello, there, sexy!My new baby is here! I spent all weekend with her, and kept her locked in my room for the most part. I can't really understand why she had to fly all over the place -- she came a long way to be with me! Don't get me wrong, because I'm certainly very glad she made it here before the weekend. Check out her two-day itinerary ...

08.05 10:06am - SHANGHAI CN - Picked up by FedEx
08.05 10:06am - SHANGHAI CN - Left Origin Location
08.05 09:01pm - SHANGHAI CN - Left Ramp
08.05 01:46pm - ANCHORAGE AK - Arrived at Sort Facility
08.06 03:46am - INDIANAPOLIS IN - Left Sort Facility
08.06 05:09am - OAKLAND CA - Arrived at Sort Facility
08.06 06:02am - OAKLAND CA - Left Sort Facility
08.06 07:40am - SUNNYVALE CA - Arrived at Destination Location
08.06 08:10am - SUNNYVALE CA - On FedEx vehicle for delivery
08.07 09:45am - MOUNTAIN VIEW CA - Delivery attempt
08.07 02:46pm - MOUNTAIN VIEW CA - Delivered

FedEx says, "The Delivery Date/Time on the Detailed Results page reflects the time of delivery according to the time zone of the destination." But that doesn't jive right with those Shanghai timestamps.

Anyway, I will be summarizing my PC-to-Mac switch (with rationale on why) shortly.

Asian Style Eats

White people love Chinese food. (Yes, all sorts of people like Chinese food, but that's not my point here.) My friends and I have endearingly adopted the term "white-people-Chinese-food" to encompass the various versions of Chinese food that Westerners tend to like.

Fortune cookies, for instance. Standard Chinese food aperatif, right? Only, they didn't start out anywhere in China -- they were invented right here in San Francisco. And there's honey garlic, which I'm pretty sure is not of pure Chinese descent.

it's chinese because there's cripsy strips in there. yeah, that's why.Then there are direct descendants of Chinese (or Asian) foods: egg noodles, sesame oil or sesame seeds, crispy wonton strips, and the sweet tang of hoisin sauce. And then "the white man" decides that suddenly, everything that has any of these ingredients becomes marketed / labelled as "Asian Style".

You know what I mean. A lettuce salad with grilled chicken and tomato and a bit of cheese: definitely Western. Ah, but sprinkle with crispy egg noodles, drizzle with hoisin sauce: an Asian delight, magically transformed! Yeah, like our Chinese legends have heros gathered around feasts of such salads.

Yet, I feel like the biggest culprit is sesame seeds. I mean, sure, we eat sesame seeds in our foods. Why not? They're yummy. But just because your dry ribs have some on them doesn't make them Chinese. No. They're just dry ribs with salt and pepper and sesame seeds on them.

No, not even if you dip them in hoisin sauce.

(At least McDonald's doesn't claim their Big Mac buns to be Asian style. Thank goodness for that.)


Last night, sHe shared a song with me, a song that brought tears to hEr eyes. I listened to it, read along with the lyrics, and I could see why. I mean, sHe was right; it was a mirror of our situations. I didn't know how an "angel" could hurt hEr so badly either, and I had no worthy explanations for hEr.

"There are many things in the air with me right now. One day, perhaps we can share a chat over coffee some day in the near future, and I will regale you with tales of this time."
"You always say that."
"I will. Tales. I promise."
"I've heard you sing that song many times. I won't be waiting."

And something in me wrenched. I wanted to tell hEr about everything in my life, to catch up with hErs, to share my innermost secrets about where I am and wish I were. I wanted to pour my soul to hEr.

But I couldn't. But the time wasn't right. Not yet. But I know there's a connection; there has to be.

"I know. I promise. Tales."

Blindly Following

We all know the phenomenon of viral marketing: referrals from trusted sources are worth a lot more than a billboard kicking on the side of the highway. But to what extent do we trust those referrals?

Let's say you need to find a doctor/dentist. Or a new TV and living room furniture. Or a vacation package. Or a tanning salon. Our first choices are usually to ask our friends/family about whatever we're looking for. But would you tend to blindly take advice or referrals from them?

uh ... mind if i check your credentials?In the case of the medical professionals, do you just assume that your friends have done their due diligence on the doctors? If you get suggestions for a home appliance or some electronic toy or whatever, do you take it at face value and figure that if it's right for them, that it's right for you? Or do you spend hours and hours pouring over the specs to make sure you're getting what you want? And where do you look to do this research?

I'm sure most of you will say, "It depends." I mean, of course it does. But what does it depend on? Who do you tend to trust, and for which situations? Give me some examples here (for or against); give me some brain fodder.

(There's a greater reason to my line of questioning. Trust me on this.)

Gotta Eat

When you're in Vancouver (visiting or otherwise), where are the must-eats you always go? A friend of mine is visiting and she asked me for some pointers from a local. I have my own list, but what's yours?

Poo Bare

Ever notice? Poo smells different.

From the same person on different days, or from different people on the same day, or even the same person on the same day but just different times. I'm sure it has to do with what you eat and what's leftover when your body doesn't want it anymore: grains in your poo would be understandably different from ... curry, let's say. (Don't blame me if you're trying to visualize this.)

But over time you can get a consistent understanding for how YOUR poo smells.* And then it can become a decent indicator on how your health is; when I'm getting sick, it's different.

you're not eating enough fibre, pooh bear.In olden times, the Emperor of China had a (poor) guy whose job it was to smell his poo and determine from it an indication of his good/bad health. (There's a scene about this in the The Last Emperor.) Instead of a toilet, the Emperor poos into a big bowl, which the guy pulls up to his nose and gets a big whiff -- I imagine that he has that look on his face like a distinguished wine taster has when sampling the latest from Mondavi's reserves. (I can also imagine him complaining to his friends about the kind of sh!t he gets from his boss. Sorry.)

While the smell can tell you much, I don't think colour is really a good indicator. Must do more research.

* I'm just talking about the poo. So you'll need to weed out the smell of the next stall, or the smell of that Glade air freshener, or any of that. Just plain poo.

More Than Seven

I saw a silly article that mentioned something was the "eighth wonder of the world". That got me to thinking, what are the 7 wonders of the world?

I always thought it would be things we couldn't explain -- sort of the "Seven Mysteries of the Ancient World", with the Stonehenge and such things in it. But it seems that these are more of the "great architecture and construction feats of the past". (It's a shame that almost all these wonders are destroyed and all that's left is ruins.)

stairway to heavenHere they are, in no particular order:

The Great Pyramid of Giza
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
The Statue of Zeus at Olympia
The Colossus of Rhodes
The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
The Pharos of Alexandria

Of course, linking on the idea of having seven wonders, WonderClub lists more (unofficial) wonders ... of the ancient world, the medieval mind, natural wonders, underwater ... the list goes on.

It's kind of neat to leaf through those pages and see what humankind has achieved (architecturally and engineering-wise) in the past and present. It's interesting that, even with our advanced technologies, we haven't necessarily created anything more glorious than what had been made in the ancient past.

Bank On This!

You know what? I wish there was a general bank account number that the Feds watched. Then, if you were ever asked for a bank account and you knew it was a scam, you could give them that. And the Feds would nab them. Ha, serves those scammers right.

No, Not ICE Cream

I only have one more significant thing to say about R, that might give you a glimpse into his personality. He introduced me to facial care products and eye cream.

This entry -- and those appearing on Geeksploitation, Head Dump, Non-Sense, Random Task, and Stuff in My Head throughout the day -- were for R's intoxicated amusement while in Winnipeg.

In His Own Words

rickard's red. and so is r.(One more as you wind down your workday.)

R drinks. He drinks enough to have accurately characterized the effects of alcohol on him, which he has extrapolated and broadly applied to encompass humans and alcohol in general. I mean, he's got theories. Plural. Theories like ...

Drinking Yourself Sober. This is a phenomenon where you can drink to the point of being buzzed / drunk, and more drinks will not get you further intoxicated. No, ironically, they will instead tend to make you less drunk / more sober and at some point, I would suppose you could be completely sober again. (R claims to have volumes of undocumented evidence of himself and others experiencing this, but few others will chime in in agreement.)

All the same, R has taken it upon himself to create new words describing his oft-inebriated condition -- words that have somehow found their way into a published thesaurus. (Yeah. I don't know how either.)

ah, yes, r knows them well. they're intimately acquainted.

These words describe the intoxicated mental condition that interestingly give R unparallelled superhuman powers, allowing him to kung-fu kick dangerous trees and sucker-punch those menacing parking meters. This is, of course, in the valiant effort to protect us unsuspecting sober friends around him. Alcohol also activates slight-of-hand skills for quick-as-lightning drunk dialing action, if only Super R could only keep track of his phone.

The best part is that in 6 easy installments of $5 per beer, he is the cheapest form of quality, all-night entertainment we have found. Bar none. And thus, we support his habit.

Bloggin' About His Noggin'

Though we like to laugh at -- uh, with -- R a lot, there is no question about his focus on carrying through his various theories (more on this later). I give you, Exhibit A.

Some years ago, R had a full head of hair. Many will agree that he is extremely lucky to have it, particularly those of us who are slowly losing ours.

R has had a longtime affinity for a certain variety of girl (typically Pinays or Vietnamese at the nightclubs) who know they have the looks, bright eyes, and like to flaunt their bodies. R likes that, and snagging one to be his girlfriend became the goal. The objective. Nay, an obsession. In seeking the path to that end, he decided the means would be to portray himself as the type of guy those girls would want.

smooth like a baby's buttSo one day, he picked up a razor ... and shaved his head clean. Clean. Like, Mr. Clean clean.

His first trial period (6 months) turned up fruitless, but he kept with the new look: thug-bald, muscles from the gym, shirts showing his build. Slightly beyond the trial period was when he began to reap benefits.

And he's never gone back since. (His girlfriend today is Pinay.)

Pep Talk

I work out with my buddy R at the local 24hour Fitness. And anyone who weightlifts with intensity is familiar with the routine shoulder / knee / whatever injuries. It's just part of the game -- not a fun part, but a part nonetheless.

Some weeks ago, R and my shoulders had been weak for a while and we were carefully nursing and rehabilitating them back to health. I remind him constantly that without pushing his limits (safely), he won't improve; he doesn't seem to exhibit the crazy workout attitude that I do. I guess he has a constant fear that he'll hurt it again and often chooses to ease up on the weights. (And then he doesn't understand why I can push more than him.)

c'mon, man, it's only 185."I need to be careful," he justified as he sat at the bench press. "I don't want to lift too much."

I couldn't help it. As he adjusted his grip on the bar, I looked him straight in the eye and calmly assured him.

"Don't worry, R: you don't."

Our friend R is likely drinking himself silly in Winnipeg right now, all by his lonesome (because there's nothing else to do there). This entry -- and those appearing on Geeksploitation, Head Dump, Non-Sense, Random Task, and Stuff in My Head throughout the day -- is for his intoxicated amusement.

Face Off

We're in the thick of summertime. So I'm in need of some facial moisturizer with SPF in it. I need some for daily use (applying it in the morning), so it has to be light and unobtrusive to me -- absolutely no shiny-face syndrome like girls on prom night.

Your thoughts, preferences, advice? Go.