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.