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.

Conjugate the Verb "Right"

Okay, so let's say you noticed something that was wrong, and you wanted to fix it. You basically want to right that wrong.

If you do it now, you right the wrong.
If you plan to do it tomorrow, you will right that wrong.
And as the person righting that wrong, you are the righter.

(As children, you were told that "righter" wasn't proper English. Now you're old enough, and I'm telling you otherwise. Look here under the verb version.)

So anyway, what if you did it yesterday?
Then you saw that injustice, and you righted that wrong.
Sounds right, right? Wrong?

I think "righted" makes sense, but my friend is dead set against its existence. And in trying to prove myself, I can't even find a definition that includes "righted" as a conjugated version of "right", even though a search on Yahoo! seems to find many (even respectable) publications using this word. Help! Your thoughts, please.

Right To The Fingertips

Every once in a while, you have a conversation that gives you tinglies all over. Nothing special in the topics you talk about, but perhaps it's the feeling that there's still an emotional connection after all this time, and you hope it's not just on your side. Does time heal all?

Here A Blogger, There A Blogger

Just when I thought the upswing in blogging activity had gotten steady. I thought everyone who might have something to say, had a medium to say it. I thought they already blogged.

But now, every blogger and their mother has one. In the last week, three friends have started up, too -- Blog This!, Head Dump, and Non-Sense.

Just what I need to delay my daily work-start time a little more. (I should note that my routine at work starts earlier now, by about 30 minutes to an hour.)

Refugee Camp

This past weekend, my roommate and I had had enough of the racket upstairs. Her guest was trying to take a nap and kept getting woken up by the military bowling-ball holding elephants. Instead of leaving a curt-but-polite note on their door (our original plan), we opted to head upstairs immediately to take care of the issue once and for all.

uh ... can we help you?We went up the echoey stairs to their open front door (it was hot that day), to find 3 guys on the couches watching some sports game, and 2 more guys at a table in the dining area. At least 7 laptop computers strewn on the fold-up tables, with books and papers everywhere.

"Hi, we live downstairs, and we're trying to nap, but there's a lot of noise that's waking our guest up." (She inadvertently made it sound like she and I were napping together, which wasn't the case, but I felt it also wasn't vital to correct her.)
"Oh, really?" a skinny couch-laden boy inquired.
"Yeah," I affirmed. "This building construction isn't that great, and all your sound travels right through when you're walking or running."
"Sorry," offered a guy by the laptop-decorated table. "In the past few days, we were moving luggage and things so maybe that's why."
"We aren't the kind of neighbours who complain about everything, but it's been going on for a long time -- longer than a week -- and that's why we're here." I felt I needed to clarify that we're pretty reasonable people, and that this had been going on long enough.
"Okay," the table guy accepted. I guess he knew I called him on it. "We'll try to keep it down, and we'll let the others know."

That part got me. Did you say "others"? You mean, there's more? What kind of shady operation was happening upstairs, that I should know about (or rather, get a cut of the action)??

We thanked them and headed back downstairs, whispering words of disbelief as soon as we closed our own entrance door. Great. A camp of refugees (with laptops) lives upstairs. Though, we didn't see that little lady I saw before.

Move It, Buddy

Some hours ago, my brother landed. In a plane. In a foreign country. In a new chapter of his life. With this entry, I send a heartfelt good luck message to Kevin as he embarks on the greatest move of his life (so far). Great things await.

Quality Time

We met in 1992 in Taiwan, and briefly again some years later in Vancouver. Recent years experienced sporadic meals together (in a group) when either of us visited California. Always short, and usually just a single meal.

But yesterday, I had the unique opportunity to spend a whole day with her. Our day at Point Lobos was mainly to chat and to take photos of everything that State Reserve had to offer: sea, sky, birds, cliffs, rocks, plants, sea lions, sea otters, poo. I learned that she's a lot more pragmatic about her photography than I am. I snap-snap-snap and then weed out the bad ones later on at home; 1GB+ storage gives me that luxury. She snaps a picture, reviews it, and decides if a second one (or replacement) is warranted; every one of her photos is a gem.

Before the end of the day, we were out of battery (three batteries' worth), out of storage (hers), and desperately trying to ration our photo ops, hoping our batteries would magically charge themselves up. I was mostly satisfied with the views we captured, but apparently she wasn't, because she's heading out there again today to finish off her collection!

It's been years since we were able to spend some time to resync on our individual lives, on our future plans, our hopes. It was nice to reconnect on a level that we had before, to laugh (mostly at me), to just be there on a gorgeous day with truly beautiful company. But I fear it may be years before we'll enjoy such a day again, as our paths take us worlds apart.

Special, But Not Special Registrant

(continued ...)

Pulling a gold medallion out of his shirt, Bramlett asked, "What does this say?" There was a Chinese character on the necklace, and I squinted to read it.

"It says 'love'."
"Good, and why do you think I wear it?"
I glanced at him and noticed a ring on his finger.
"Love for your wife? Your kids?" I decided to skip the "grandkids" part -- you never want to over-assume someone's age, particularly when they control your entry into a country where your car is.
"Right. My wife." I detected a smile.

Clearly, I had all the necessary documents and things in place. The worst was over, moods were picking up, and conversation flowed better. He rattled a few nearly-undecipherable Chinese sayings, and relayed the story of how he got the 18k pendant in Shanghai for $100USD. And of how his wife is Chinese. And of how the US government rents a huge house for him in Richmond, completely with a gardener, who normally comes on Wednesdays, but for some reason didn't this Wednesday.

And about how his wife is the only Asian resident on the US Virgin Island where he really lives, and that she's almost an object of awe there, like a local celebrity.

strikes fear into the hearts of mortal (foreign)menIn all this dialogue, Bramlett stated, "Well, I deem that you are no threat to the security of this country, and will authorize your entry into the United States." Then he stamped my I-94 with various things.


"Hmmm, that's not right. You're not a 'special registrant'."
"What's a special registrant?"
"Usually Middle Eastern people."
"No, that I'm not." I didn't know what else to say. Certainly, it wouldn't have been smart to go, "Duh, look at me, moron!"

My flight was coming up, and I was kind of hoping to get on it. He re-wrote my I-94 completely, taking his sweet time, and fumbled around looking for the stamp. After looking through the ink-stained drawer, he produced the right one; the one I had been staring at all that time.


I paid him the $50USD, chatted a little longer while he figured it out. He never questioned my previous TN lapse, and finally let me go. By the end of our conversation, he invited me to look him up if ever I were to visit the Virgin Islands.

As I threw my luggage on the moving belts outside, I whipped my phone out and gave his voicemail the short version.

"Hey, Kev. I'm in. Later."

Border Line Terrified

I stepped up, papers in hand.  Bramlett picked it up and felt its heft.

Leaning over to his friend, he remarked, "Have you ever seen this for a TN?"
"Lawyer work. Probably cost him a grand."
"That's legal stealing right there. We should be in that business," he quipped before turning his attention to me again.
"How much did you pay?"
"A lot," I admitted with an embarrassed smile.
"How much?" he insisted.
"Fifteen. Hundred."

He walked down the wall, still disbelieving the weight of the bullet-proof document package I had presented him with, and showed it to two others before returning to his seat to deal with me.

"Have you ever been in trouble with law enforcement? Been in jail? Arrested?" He looked at me, dead serious, with a hint of suspicion. "Don't lie to me, because I can look it up right now."
"No, sir, and I hope I never will," I replied gently. I was no criminal, but he still had me shaking.
"I hope you never go to jail either, because some big guy will be calling you Mary, loaning you out to his friends at night for a few cigarettes," he said without taking his eyes off his monitor. "I'm only telling you because I like you."  He sure had a funny way of showing affection.

"Hmm, tell me: what happened in September 2001?"

I remembered back, and my heart and mind raced (probably against each other).  And I explained how my first application for a TN was botched because of my company's HR idiot. Clearly, still a mark exists there to this day. But he seemed satisfied with the response and continued the interrogation.

"Have you ever gone by the name Gregory?"
"No, sir." I bet Gregory was in some kind of trouble, and I'm glad I wasn't him.
"How about Kemes? Kemes. Keye. Kemeskeye." He didn't seem sure.
"No, none of the above."
"Have you ... ever been black?" No smile from him.
"Not in this life, no," I said, with a slight Mona-Lisa-type smile.

Some typing, some reading, some more typing, and he looked at me with my application.

"Well, there's only one thing you need to worry about right now," he said, staring straight into my eyes. "You need to worry about having a good day. Wait, you're born in Vancouver?"
"Yes, sir, I was."
"And you're Chinese?"
"I'm of Chinese descent, yes."
"Then I have two more questions for you," he said in a conversation that rang my racial-stereotyping mental bell.

(... to be continued)

In A Flash

July 4 to 15.
11 days.
A blink of an eye.
I'm back.

Present Value, Past Value

My knowledge of Vancouver seems to be more like "Vancouver circa 2001". That day I left, a new life for me started in California, and my memories of Vancouver had been cast in stone.

no more cheap wings nightSo last night, we hit up Earl's for a commemorative Wings Night. And imagine my shock that in 2.7 years, their prices had increased dramatically and the portions were much smaller now! The restaurant atmosphere was the same, but I was disappointed with the (lack of) value in a place where I had had so many good times before. Their menu changed to some half-assed fusion concoction: no more cheap wings, no more unlimited refill strawberry-sprites. All this just means no more Earl's for me.

And today, in a failed lunch attempt at The Keg (that location only opens for dinner), I went to the Cactus Club instead. The same deal: atmosphere was preserved, but all the prices increased, and therefore the value of going there diminished. I mean, who pays $9.50 for a burger and fries? Even one with chicken breast and bacon in it? It's not right; just ain't right.

Either that, or I'm just getting cheaper in my old age. And at least the company I kept during these meals was great.

Memories Mashed

Huh. That's interesting. Some 5 months after my original post about New Big Wok, my sister picked some up for me.

Doesn't taste quite as good as I remembered. Perhaps my memories of Vancouver have been glorified in my head? But then I don't remember the place being called New Big Wok either, so maybe it's changed management in the meantime.

Anyhow, my favourite curry place is now Mui Garden. (Favourite non-Indian curry, that is.) They've always been really good, but I'm removing Big Wok from my list.

One day left. What to do?


Someone here (in Vancouver) told me that I like to talk. Do I really? It struck me as a little strange, because I really don't think I do.

I used to speak very rarely, because I found that most of what people say when they're socializing is just useless banter. Take, for instance, an example of a styrofoam cup falling on the floor. No doubt, someone would say, "Oh, that cup fell."

"Yeah. No sh!t," I'd be thinking.

I wouldn't see the point of bringing that up, because ... well, because it's obvious. I mean, we all see it, so just pick it up and move on. There's no need to discuss such a trivial act, right?

As time went on, I began to accept that most conversations are rather useless and meant only for momentary entertainment. Like at a club or at a BBQ or something. This was the accepted behaviour to consider oneself sociable; this was how personal interaction worked.

Nowadays, I think I talk more just because sometimes I notice something out of the ordinary, and I'm the only one to verbalize it. I'm quicker to translate thoughts into speech, without worrying as much what people will think.

So tell me. You think I talk too much? (Blogging doesn't count.) Or how did you change over time in terms of dialogue participation?

Hmmm, That's Different

It's interesting to see all your friends when they're all dressed up. Some seem the same, but some seem very different. I think the ladies just look more attractive, considering how much time they spent looking for that "perfect dress" for the evening, while guys have decent suits and not-so-decent suits. I'm not sure if that's what makes the real difference, but it's just an interesting thought to a drunk guy on a Saturday night (Sunday morning). I sure appreciate tearing off my tie at the end of the evening though.

And open bar. I appreciate open bar.

Chaos and Happiness, Hand in Hand

Today, a dear friend enters wedded bliss. The past month for her, however, has been project management hell. This is mostly because she takes it upon herself to make every last detail perfect. And I mean perfect, as in it gets completely redone if she's not satisfied with the work.

And yet, the evening won't be about the room, the posters, the signage, the table decorations, or even the flowers. Each of these will get a passing glance and an odd remark here and there.

The focus will be on the bride. (More so the bride than the groom, as always.) And what makes or breaks the evening will be the quality of the glow that emanates from her presence and happiness tonight. Almost everything is in place, and it's most important that she enjoys tonight, and basks in the glow of the first of many "happiest day[s] of my life"!

Much love to her from all of us!

How I Am

I've realized that my personality costs me a great deal, possibly too much sometimes.

Repetitive Reds

go, stop, go, stopTraffic lights along urban corridors are now designed to give you successive green lights, so that you can push out "waves of traffic". This way, cars can go at a certain speed and have a good likelihood of not hitting reds. In fact, this makes it very difficult to hit sequential reds at every light.

But today I did it. Every traffic light was yellow or red when I got to it. And these were long lights too, with all the left turn signals and everything. And I realized how I was able to consistently hit those stoplights: without fail, if you urgently need to pee, all lights will go red.

Random Tasks

Things to do ...

- kick it with the fam
- shop Uppercut
- workout
- eat sushi
- MC the wedding
- shop Mexx
- kick it with friends
- eat at The Keg
- do a little job searching
- shop Zara
- eat at Hon's
- figure out where the sun went

... not necessarily in that order, chronologically or importance.

Vancouver, Vancouver

Vancouver rocks. I've only been back about 14 hours, but already I've witnessed a gorgeous sunset against the mountains. And the sun set at 10pm, no less! In search for food, my brother and I happened across a Greek cultural festival and wandered in. We partook in some delicious gyros and spanakopitas. Spirits were high, of course, because of their recent victory over Portugal in the world-famous football (soccer) match. It's amazingly nice to be back, a nice way to start of my time off work.

But the house is a freakin' mess.

Does So, Does Not, Does So ...

You think YOU have stupid arguments? Check these two. (Puts it all in new perspective, eh?)

Signs From Above

My roommates and I have been at this apartment for almost three years now. The people who lived above us moved out and that unit laid vacant for some time before being occupied again, almost two years ago by a foreign exchange program group at Stanford university.

Now every month or two, we have the pleasure of having new people living upstairs from us. It seems they take interest in very diverse activities.

so what if it's 7am?At first, they seemed to be operating a cellular phone drop-test facility. As students, maybe it was to make ends meet or something. And I understand that as aspiring construction workers with jackhammers, they need to get used to starting work promptly at 7:00am. Though I'm not sure if it was the best method, practicing their marching drills upstairs is certainly one way to infuse discipline into their studies. And after all that training and working, who doesn't need to have a little fun, right? We all love pets. They love it when their pet elephants run around with lead shoes; we love it when they don't.

gonna pump us up!And sure, 300-pound men working out with free weights will probably create a little noise that permeates through their floor and our ceiling. Sure, I was a college student once, and I needed to work off some energy, and I too wanted to be buff for the ladies. And with ladies comes the need for a little spending money, so it was no surprise that they started a late-night bowling ball testing laboratory, which woke me up at 3:30am.

please do not drop thisWell, I finally met the most recent neighbour from upstairs one day per chance. No burly buffed man, carrying a bowling ball with an African elephant in tow. No construction hat or box of cracked mobile phones. No army boots. Just a little Asian lady, maybe not even 5'2" tall. I just don't get how so much noise can come out of something so small.

A Brush With Pink

Was thinking more about that pink pill (sodium fluoride tablets, not Zymax) we talked about that other day. It's kind of like that other pink pill that the dental expert gives you when she visits the class (once or twice a year).

That's where she shows you proper teethbrushing1 technique, and then you're all told to go brush your teeth. So you're in the bathroom, brushing the best you've ever brushed, and trying really hard to do it the right way. You're practically pressure-washing your teeth; if you did any better, you'd wear out the enamels.

You come back with your classmates and sit at your desk. The lady talks some more, and then she pulls out those paintballs-fer-yer-mouth.

That's the test.

It's the other pink pill, and you've seen it before. It's the one that coats and stains your teeth on purpose, wherever plaque happens to be. Last year, you had plaque all over, but this year, it'll be different. You knew it was coming, and you're ready for it. Just minutes before, you completed the best brushing operation ever. You spent probably five times longer at that sink than you would even dream of at home, because this time there's a test. (And also because this time, you're not racing to get back to the couch before commercials are done.) You know you did great. You got every nook and cranny, and even found some teeth you had probably never brushed before.

Pop the pill, chew, chew, swish, swish. This is where your perfected fluoride pill squelching techniques really shine. You're so good at it that you envision everyone making a swishing circle around you like they used to do at the discos in the 70's, just to watch and clap! The swishing is over, and you open your mouth.

Nothing but pink.

In fact, there's so much pink that you swear it was even pinker than the pill itself! How the heck did that happen?? It's like you just licked a cherry popsicle after chewing on a red highlighter! Oh, the shame!

And you're one of the few people with pinkmouth -- somehow, most of the class has mastered teethbrushing, and you haven't. Even your exceptional math skills can't save you now. You vow to concentrate on brushing better for the rest of your life. (This, of course, only lasts until the next week.)

1 "teethbrushing"? Is that the right word, or "toothbrushing"? You're really brushing many teeth, but it just sounds weird.