I'll See Your 1, and Raise You 2

At the end of each year, everyone does this look-back-on-the-year thing. Ho hum. I'm gonna do you two better: a single post that has links to the funny stuff that happened to me (or entries that still crack me up) in the past three years. So forget that stupid Dick Clark show on December 31, and cuddle up with this list. Enjoy!

2003: hospitals, ghetto peeing (and i mean a lot of ghetto peeing), pee holes, amusement parks, lost shoes, freestylin', flatulence, and progress.

2004: coffee cups, spam, nipples, salad, change, asparagus, skincare, chain thoughts, humming, fluoride and general brushing, noise from above, workouts, poo, Asian food, video games, faces, injections, scary bugs, and the feel of skin.

2005: more buttons (and even more), my sexuality (in some ways admitting to metrosexuality), twins, reflections, seating, beaches, sound and smell, new words, frolicking, showers, marketing, food poisoning, bargaining, mirrors, and potentially dirty cuffs.

What. Yes, that's it for this entry. Now go on, go outside and play. Happy new year.

Holiday Lessons

Over the past week, I've learned a few non-contiguous things. In the spirit of the internet and of general merriment, I share them with you herewith.

1. You can apparently buy drugs from a drugstore by the pill/capsule. Antihistamines were $10 TWD each pill, and the lady came out of the backroom with a tiny ziploc bag with two non-descript white pills in it. I took one, and it knocked me out until the next morning (11 hours later).

2. The classic versions of Christmas songs are still some of the timeless best.

3. Some party guests are comfortable enough with me that they can yell out whatever their impromptu demands. "Enough movies. Where's the music?" which, some 50 minutes later, became, "No more music! Movies!"

4. It sucks to work the week between Christmas and New Years.

5. 14 people, 3 trays of home toasted nachos (with the works), 3 trays of homemade bruschetta, and 1 turkey with all the fixings makes for a big mess.

6. Nobody wants to watch Home Alone, ever again.

7. There's a problem when your drinking games consist of less drinking and more dares, simply because the punishment of drinking is no longer considered punishing enough.

8. Two huge turkeys in two consecutive days is just two much.

9. If you are in your 8th floor apartment, and you spot carolers approaching and singing at the apartment complex across the street, do not scream, "Louder! We can't hear you over here!" They seem not to appreciate that bit of constructive feedback.

Alright, enough with the new stuff; next post will be about old stuff.

Year End Resolution

It's funny that sometimes a seemingly ordinary day can quickly turn into an extraordinary one. I got to work as usual, plopped into my seat, logged into my network, my mail, my MSN, looked over my tasks for the day, and then this came in.

"Hi, happy holidays to you. i think we should end this year on a good note. i think i'm now ready to be friends with you and i also think that "hating you" is not really helping me move on. i just need to let it go and move forward with no hard feelings."

I have to say, it was a strong move for her to do this. We had a nice chat, caught up on a few recent events, and then called it a day.

Nearly Forgotten

Wow. It's been a while since I've posted, and not only did I not wish everyone a bloggy Christmas holiday season, but I haven't even recapped what's been up lately! So here's to wishing you a very happy after-Christmas-pre-New-Years week! A little extra yippee for the Canadians who are likely enjoying crazy Boxing Week sales! I'm back at work today, so lots to catch up on. Be back later.

To All a Good E-card

E-cards are usually personalized in some way, but this one seems to do just fine without having to be dedicated towards any person at all. Here's The Snowdog by English artist Jacquie Lawson. Cute.

[ Edit: This Father Christmas video by Rare Exports Inc. is also well-done, but, shall we say, less cute. Apparently, these are professional Finnish actors in it. ]

Print This

I've always wanted to design graphics for printing shirts. It would be fun, but I figure nobody would hire me for that job, solely based on the facts that I am inexperienced and completely untalented. (Can't blame them.)

So now I'm thinking, maybe I just want to design a few and have them printed at some little shop for myself; kind of a one-off shirt idea, but have a few different ones. I came up with an idea that I'd actually wear, for all the people who keep staring at me and my brother, or even just me (for whatever strange reason):


That's it. Just "what." I think that's all I need to say, and even if they don't know what it means, I do, and that's enough for me.

If you could print a shirt with whatever you wanted, what would you print? Assuming, of course, that you will wear this out in public.


I like Fridays.

I get to wear jeans to work (although sometimes I let this trickle into Thursdays, and sometimes if I am feeling under the weather too). Everyone is generally in a chipper mood, even if there's more work to be done (oftentimes gotta-be-done-before-the-weekend tasks), because that light at the end of the tunnel is a weekend and clearly not a train.

But wait, there's more!

Friday afternoons are usually a little lighter in workload, and we can usually start being less productive starting about 5pm. And lunchtime conversation usually is lively with plans of whatcha-doin-this-weekend. And sometimes we even get to have a more leisurely lunch actually at a restaurant instead of ordering lunchboxes in. (We are like prisoners around here.) All this, coupled with a more acceptable late workstart time makes for a generally more enjoyable workday; it's not like we don't work on Fridays, but rather the mood is better overall. And then there's the good boy-do-i-need-a-drink-now justification for a trip to the local watering hole.

I sure like Fridays. Except when Captain Slackass uses his superpowers against me.

o, d, b.

Something I learned during our quality system training: if you stare at the Powerpoint slide of Arial font characters, and you unfocus your eyes a little bit, these letters ...

o d b p q

... exhibit the large "o" parts of their letters a little more. It's like suddenly, you notice the round holes more throughout the page. It's neat. Or maybe it's not, and I was just really bored during training.

Just a Little Bit

I'm just a little bit miffed right now at the apathetic attitude of one engineer at work. I like to think that I'm pretty patient with this thing, and I try to be a good and nice boss and a fun coworker to boot. But I'm at the end of my rope now, and I'd kind of like to make a loop out of it and snuggle it around his neck. This dude is young, but still, the "young and stupid" excuse should only be used so much, and not this much:

- You don't run up $9000NT ($300US) mobile phone bills month after month making personal international phone calls. (I have since gotten into the habit of handing him his detailed phone bill to get him to pay it directly.)
- Once reprimanded several times, it is not acceptable to simply using the landline to make your personal calls instead. Guess what? I'll be leaving those bills on your desk as well.
- In our line of work, there's never "nothing to do". The industry is changing, and a lot of the weekly changes affect you, so you can't sit there and tell me you have nothing to do, unless you know absolutely everything. Which you don't.
- Even if you think you have nothing to do, you can't leave at 4:45pm without telling anybody. If you want to take advantage of your own unproductivity, that's one issue. But I won't have you countering the general atmosphere and morale of the other employees who see you leaving early.
- There's a $100K US project with a schedule conflict, and one half of the conflict is some maintenance that you have scheduled with our vendor. I don't want to lose this project, and I would like you to at least make the effort to call the vendor and even ask if a reschedule can be possible. I certainly expect you to do it after I straight-out ask you to. Twice. With still no action whatsoever, even knowing the urgency I'm posing here.
- Don't take my niceness to be your God-given right. You may have some experience, but you are not indispensible in that role or in this company. And I will forever value the right attitude over that measley year of experience you have. Remember that. Because if you forget, I will soon make an example of you to straighten out anyone else who's thought of being as slack-assed as you.

I don't slag my coworkers except on rare occasion. But this really took me over the top. I've worked really hard on this project and put part of my vacation request on hold to see if I should stay in the office over Christmas for it. I will not have this punk fvck it up just because he's young and incredibly selfish.

Mr. Bigglesworth

I had never known Taiwanese weather for anything other than sticky humidity and sweltering heat, but this winter is really something else. It's chilly enough to need a thick jacket and a scarf, especially walking out at night, but it's doubly worse when you're on a scooter because of that damned wind chill.

That's all fine and dandy, because you can just bundle up when you head out. But at home? There's no heating built into the homes here (unless you're super-ultra-mega-rich), and dammit, in the office neither. In fact, it almost feels colder in the office than outside! I have resorted to wearing fleece jackets and sweaters while in the office -- it's like a ski lodge here.

Hmmm, maybe a little booze will help the work day go by warmer (and better).

Love What You Do

Do you like what you do? Wait-- what do you do, anyway??

Bah, Humbug

It's not Christmas.

Christmas has malls full of decorations in festive greens and reds, Christmas music everywhere, jingling Santas, those annoyingly bell-happy Salvation Army people. Christmas is full of happy kids all around, and busy people with shopping bags, wrapped up with coats and scarves, and tufts of fog from their breath outside.

It's not Christmas. It's not Christmas. Not yet, anyhow.

I bought myself a 4-foot (plastic) tree, and loaded it with ornaments in silvers, golds, and reds, and tinsel and stuff. And let's certainly not forget the little white lights that glow and fade, wax and wane, blink excitedly, and chase each other around the tree. And tealights from IKEA in red, green, and white, which burn and waft aromatic apple cider and cinnamon scents across my apartment.

And I've added some 10 albums to my iTunes, chock full of Christmasy music, even if some are repeats. Now, it's time to gather all the Christmasy movies I can get my hands on, and then have a Christmas Eve party at my place for those of us who don't have our families together for the holiday.

So Much Stuff, So Little Trunk Space

Lesson learned: shopping at Costco on a scooter is a lot less fun, because you have to worry about how the hell you're going to get it all home.

This also extends to shopping at supermarkets and everything else, further exacerbated by that trunk area getting hot after longer rides (because it's directly overtop of the 125cc engine). That means frozen foods or chilled fruit don't fare too well in there. Perhaps I can rig up some kind of container to take advantage of the heat, and cook stuff while riding?

What I miss most, though, is the convenience of just chucking stuff in the trunk or back seat of my car, and keeping it "with me" whenever. In a car, I kept three bins of stuff -- flashlights and whatever, bottled water, gym stuff, anything. It's really my second home. Now, space is a premium, and I have to carefully budget what I throw in there. Everything has gone mini now: tiny flashlight, the most compact raincoat I could get, little sample-pack sized things, etc.

Can't wait to have a car again.

Off the Cuff

Point of enlightenment: it would be a Bad ThingTM to be wiping your butt and then accidentally get some poo on your dress shirt cuff. Because that smell doesn't really come out except with thorough washing, and you'd be sporting some serious eau de toilette for the rest of the day.

(No, I didn't have this happen to me, but the thought of such danger did dawn upon me as I was wiping my ass this morning. I mean, at least with streak marks, they're hidden.)

Half and Half

When you see a glass filled halfway up its height with water, do you see it as half empty or half full?

Wait. Stop.

Before you go any further into some kind of navel-gazing philosophical attitude answer about how you're oh-so-optimistic and blahblahblah, that's not what I mean to ask. I mean to ask it literally: do you see a glass of water that's actually half empty or half full? (And don't cop out and say "both", you sit-on-the-fencer.)

Me, I see it as half full. (By the way, I'm normally a little pessimistic.) And it's because I think about how much water I would normally get if I were to pour myself a "full glass". I usually leave myself some "spill margin" (that little space) at the top; sometimes half an inch, sometimes an inch, depending, but typically less than the thickness of the glass' base. So a glass that's got drinky drink in it halfway up its full height usually means it's got more liquid than half the "full" amount I would pour.

And thus, my final answer is "(more than) half full". It also explains why I snicker to myself pettily when I ask for half a glass of something, and they pour exactly that, giving me that bonus bit, unbeknownst to them. (Score that extra drop.)


Sometimes I have nothing to say, really.

A Blind Eye

I watched as a police officer leisurely walked up to a street vendor near a popular trendy part of town. The guy was the only illegal vendor left on the block -- everyone else had cleared away long before, at the first sight of the cops. The blue slowly pulled out his pad to write a citation against the retailer, and as he did, he said:

"We've been circling the block for a long time, and approached very slowly. Why didn't you pack up and move away??"

Closed-minded folk will see Taiwan has having "no order", but the more astute observers soon discover that there is an alternate order to things here. You just have to see it.

Reflections of a Personal Kind

Mirrors are a great tool used by interior designers. They make things look bigger: rooms, hallways, your ass in that dress. And they're generously used in some nice hotels as well. They use it in the bathroom of my hotel room. No, I don't mean in front of the mirror -- every bathroom has one of those. No, they have an extra one, a full-height one, as the wall of the bathtub. Yeah. There.

With it, I now give myself full frontal nudity each time I shower. And as most of you could guess, I can guarantee you this is not a pretty sight.

But wait, there's more!

With the mirror where it is, it gets worse. I now side-moon myself each time I sit on the crapper. That, I really don't need to see. Who needs to watch themselves on the toilet??

And it's directly opposite the regular mirror, which means I don't just see myself on the toilet. No, no, that's getting off too easily. The two mirrors make a tunnel: a reflective tunnel of millions of perpetual, identical Bens going on forever. All sitting on the porcelain poo station, all moving in unison, all getting up at the same time to wipe their ass.


How Low Can You Go?

Hands firmly thrust in our coat pockets, we ventured into a small street. I looked at a wall of North Face and Oakley backpacks, while he peered at some silk ties in a neighbouring stall. I joined him as the girl showed him the calculator display.


He said nothing, and was preparing to leave with me. Three taps on the calculator in rapid succession, and again held to his face.
"Okay, $190. Cheap for you."
"No, thanks. Maybe we'll come back tomorrow."

I stepped outside, and my colleague tried to follow suit. Problem was, there was a girl in his way and she blocked him. Not the kind of block as in you happened to be in the way, but a block as in the most intentional kind: you don't want him to get by you with a basketball and make the throw.
"$50. $50! Okay?"
"No, it's okay. Really. Really."

He pushed by her, and we proceeded to leave. Heck, we would have made it too if it weren't for that sudden hand grasping his arm at the elbow.
"Okay, how much? How much you want?"

We politely smiled and told her we really couldn't buy it today. Tomorrow, instead. Our steps separated us from her and slowly engulfed us into darkness (but just a block away from the hotel). In the distance, she was relentless.
"Ten. $10! $10!"
"No. Thank you. To-mor-row."

As we walked, I chuckled: I now understood the extent of haggling possibilities. $10 RMB is just $1.25 USD or 1 EUR! My coworker, he looked at me with a big grin on his excited face.
"Tomorrow, let's go back. I'm going to buy the whole store!"

Crabby Cabbie

My first experience in Beijing hasn't been the best.

I had been warned by a friend who lives here that there are legal and illegal cabs crowding the airport. I took great care in lining up at the official taxi line-up, and they pointed me to a black one waiting, where the driver quickly loaded our luggage into the trunk and ushered us in.

The first mistake: he said he didn't know where the hotel was.
Second: there was no meter in the car.
Third: he asked me to call the hotel on my roaming mobile phone.
Fourth: he couldn't even give us a price.
Fifth: he wouldn't stop the cab so we could get out.

Eventually, we figured out the chinese name of TianLun Dynasty Hotel and after much insistent (rude) prodding, he finally quoted me 300 RMB (about $35 USD) for the ride. (For reference, it shouldn't cost more than 80 RMB.) I argued with him but dropped it after much frustration, and instead I asked him for a receipt.
Sixth: he asked me for a pen to write it with.
Seventh: he scribbled "200.00 RMB" on the back of a highway toll receipt and told me that was it.

We got to the hotel and had my colleague quickly get our luggage out of the trunk. Remembering my friend's advice, I brought up the cab price with the hotel doorman immediately upon exiting the car before paying. She inspected his car, peered in, and asked him how much. He told her 90RMB. Satisfied (but not content), I paid the 90RMB and waved him away.

After all that, the hotel is gorgeous, and the room is very comfortable. Now onto the Peking Duck somewhere, but so far, I'm not at all impressed with the foggy, smoggy, dark and corrupted mess that seems to be Beijing.

I Love In-Town

This in-town check-in is awesome; I just checked into my flight and dumped my luggage at the IFC mall in Central Hong Kong! Hong Kong has got it right (with a similar system in Seoul). So now I can kick around here at MIX for a bit for breakfast, and shop last-minute, and then hitch the Airport Express straight to the gate (and security) shortly before my flight! That means no sitting around bored at the airport!

Love it.

From HKG to Peking Duck

It is some disappointment that I have to fly to Beijing today, and leave Hong Kong. This is a beautiful city, made more fun and more exciting by my gracious hosts S&M and canine tour guide Sparky. It had been 15 years since my last visit, and this time was way more fun.

Beijing awaits, and I expect it to be eye-opening, since it's my first step into China ever. But, it will be with my travel companion coworker CrabbyBones. Oh. Joy. Mr. I-don't-want-to-have-Chinese-food-in-Hong-Kong. Well, I'm having Peking Duck, no matter what. And although he is supposed to be with me practically every waking hour while I'm in Beijing, I will have to ditch him if he gets unreasonably stubborn. And then leave him to his own devices in a less-friendly town where he doesn't speak the language.

Okay, time to distract Sparky with a beef bone and then make my noisy escape with all my bags.


Hong Kong is fun, but I think I'm pretty much done with malls. There's just too much shopping in this city, and shopping that I typically can't afford. What else is there to do here??

I Just Want to Sleep

Yesterday's tradeshow day ended at 6:00pm. Exhibitor's party at LUX in Lan Kwai Fong (the pub/clubbing district) started at 6:30pm, free beer and wine and highballs. And very very little food. (Long day, free booze, no food: in case you are new to this game, that's not a particularly good combination.)

And then around 9:00pm, M&S came by and we got in (by invitation) to dragon-i for the opening party of some Gerrard jewellery launch. Again, free booze, and the kitchen was closed. Met a bunch of people, some media mogul folk, and a gay guy who tried to hold S's hand. (S, being the good friend shrugged him off, and spun him over to me, where the dude tried to hold my hand. No, thank you.)

1:00am rolls around, and S and I are looped out our trees and we stumble our way to some burger joint owned by a Canadian guy. An awesome burger and to-die-for poutine finish our night.

This morning, I am not in particularly good shape. Tired, and I have to play nice for another 4 hours. I just want to go home and sleep.

I Just Want to Eat

Four people (some not very culinarily open-minded) from four countries, two barking feet on each of them, eight long tradeshow hours, and one dinner to agree on. Ain't gonna happen.

We walked from the convention center to the complex next to it. Two restaurants.

"I don't want Chinese. I'll have Chinese in the next few weeks anyway."

Uh, okay, that's in Taiwan, which is totally different Chinese, but whatever. And uh, why would you eat anything but Chinese food while in Hong Kong?? So we dropped him and sent him away to his hotel (thankfully on the Kowloon side).

Three left. And thus began the oh-let's-go-here-oh-let's-go-there wild goose chase.

Cab ride around Wan Chai before the taxi driver told us we had to go to this famous 40-year-old traditional Chinese place. Sounded great, actually! And then one colleague says,
"How's the Peak?"

Driver turns around and heads up to the Peak Lookout: closed for private event. Wandering through the Galleria to find no suitable Chinese food (except for the cafe downstairs), after consulting with several tourist shop owners.

Cab ride back down to Central where the taxi driver finally gives up on us and drives us through Causeway Bay, drops us off at Tai Fook which, in my humble opinion of Chinese food, was blah.

I was in a particularly pissy mood, already tired and hungry, and I just wanted to eat. Afterwards, we wandered the streets of Causeway Bay, but the other two guys wanted to head home.

I need to find more people whom I can travel with.

There Are Very Many People in Hong Kong

This place is amazing. Skyscraper after skyscraper of businesses and people. And the prices here for a decent lifestyle are actually more affordable than in Taiwan! Except for housing, of course, which is way off.

After taking care of work things the whole morning and part of the afternoon -- and it was a very testing morning for me today that nearly had me exhausting my sad arsenal of Cantonese swear words -- I managed to take the Star Ferry to the Kowloon side.

You know that mall they got over there, the Harbour City? Holy sh!t, that's a mall. Took me the whole day to get through it, including a small purchase at Zara.

Tomorrow, the real work starts. Plastic smiles and fake laughs for 8 hours. Whee.

What a Day

Recovered from that terrible food poisoning, and managed to keep some food down.

Headed to work, had to negotiate some flight plans (and coordinate last-minute flights to Beijing for me and a colleague) that didn't seem to match up. Found out the travel agent booked me for a flight to Hong Kong for last Friday instead of today. Luckily, they were able to get me upper-deck seating on today's flight.

Scootered home, shut everything off in the apartment (since I'm out for 9 days), hopped in the taxi. Rode along for 20 minutes before realizing my mobile phone is back in the apartment. Dammit.

Turned around, went back to get it, and made it to the airport with time to spare: it only took 20 minutes to get through check-in, security, and exit customs! Now I'm resting a bit at the Dynasty Lounge (damn, I love this) before -- oh, time to board.

See you (virtually) in Hong Kong!

Out the Back

Food poisoning is a terrible, terrible thing. I do not enjoy pissing little brown pellets out my ass. Especially the day before I need to fly out for 9 days on business.

I'm sorry you had to bear witness to this, but would be really sorry if you had to really bear witness to it.

Scattered at 31

Had a small birthday dinner at Salt & Bread yesterday. Lesson: Russians may know their vodka, but their baked oxtail with mashed potatoes is dangerously similar to a fatty starch bomb. And accordions are almost as annoying as bagpipes.

If I don't workout regularly, my energy level decreases in general, and usually after dinner I have the tendency to conk out. Now I'm just missing the white undershirt vest and the sitting on the couch staring at the boobtube while scratching myself.

Rye bread ain't all that. And I am in desperate need of a black belt -- I never realized how restricting to my dress wardrobe it is not to have a black dress belt. Also never realized how difficult it is to find a classy black belt around here; you'd think more people had fashion sense.

I hold efficient weekly meetings at work; for a team of 9, status updates and new topics to discuss can be done between 15-25 minutes. Anything that drags the meeting is taken offline. Bing bang boom, and we're outta the room.

Comme Ca ISM socks are a dream. They feel like satin on my feet, and make me all happy.

Hop, Skip, Jump

Sorry for the recent silence; I know how empty your lives have been without my daily blog entries. (Not.) Just a quick update; suddenly my November (business) travel plans have been jostled around. This is how it landed:

11/14 -> 11/20: Hong Kong (HKG)
11/21 -> 11/23: Beijing (BJS)
11/28 -> 12/01: Essen (FRA) CANCELLED

Will get to see M&S in Hong Kong and spend some good time with them, since they offered to put me up for the time I'm there. Excited!

[ edit: By the way, thanks for all the birthday wishes, though I'm not technically leaving 30 for another 17 hours or so (due to international date line and time difference). ]

Older, Not Wiser

Tequila is evil. And tolerance to it is not something you can grow into.

Ce-le-brate Good Times, C'mon!

The sun is shining, the air is cool; it's a gorgeous day that reminds me of summer mornings in Vancouver when I was a kid. Or a super-early morning in the Bay Area. Gawd, that puts me in a nice mood.

What with the broken belt incident -- "The Great Broken Belt Incident of 2005" -- I found that a good chunk of my pants selections is now no longer available to me. But this morning, I found a pair of Uppercut pants still fresh in the packaging! So today, I am sporting the Uppercut Trooper in Stone (grey). that puts me in a good mood too.

So anyway, the birthday is coming up next week. How should I celebrate it? (Within reason, please.)

(Actually, you're not really becoming a year older on your birthday; you're really just a day older, because the day before, you were just a day younger. The age number is kind of misleading that way; they should change it. But you know what I mean. Just answer the question.)

Meme a Little Meme For Me

I was suddenly under a little virtual peer pressure to do this -- and you know how easily I cave in to such things, on account of my having no backbone. So, here goes nothin'. I'm not that proud of how my answers turned out, so I'm reserving the right to change these at a later date.

Three names I go by:
1. Ben
2. my Chinese name
3. BenBen

Three screen names I have had:
1. Ben
2. concept
3. whipcream

Three physical things I like about myself:
1. my arms (only after workout, thanks to paternal genetics)
2. my babyface
3. that i'm alive

Three physical things I don't like about myself:
1. my lovehandles
2. my babyface (getting carded in Vegas gets old)
3. my build (and how I'm losing it)

Three parts of my heritage:
1. Canadian
2. Taiwanese
3. uh ... CBC/ABC-ese?

Three things that scare me:
1. failure
2. dying
3. being alone (different from being single)

Three of my everyday essentials:
1. food
2. folks
3. fun

Three of my favorite musical artists:
1. 2pac
2. Indigo Swing
3. me (no, I will not show you)

Three of my favorite songs (right now):
1. Nelly - "My Place"
2. Usher - "My Boo, Part 2"
3. Mario - "Nikes Fresh Out The Box"

Three things I want in a relationship:
1. love
2. happiness
3. passion

Three lies and truths in no particular order (you figure out which ones are lies and which ones are the truth):
1. buy more for myself than for gifts when xmas shopping
2. have abnormally big palms and stubby fingers
3. never kissed two girls in one night
4. have a secret stash of controlled substances
5. vandalized someone else's property once, kinda
6. know karate, judo, arnis, and chinese checkers

Three physical things about the opposite sex that appeals to me:
1. eyes
2. smile
3. curve of the waist/hips

Three of my favorite hobbies:
1. gym time
2. geeking out
3. eating (it is so a hobby)

Three things I want to do really badly now:
1. get a car
2. leave the office and go back to sleep
3. poo (though not necessarily in this order)

Three careers I'm considering/I've considered:
1. process engineer
2. interior designer
3. street vendor / owner

Three places I want to go on vacation:
1. Australia
2. Western Europe
3. Tibet

Three kid's names I like:
1. Deanna
2. Tyrence
3. !xobile (haha, just kidding)
4. Tobi (haha, it's funny if you know my last name)
5. Sharina (to make up my real third one)

Three things I want to do before I die:
1. live, like really live
2. raise a family
3. um, celebrate my 150th birthday?

Three ways that I am stereotypically a boy:
1. i like toilet humour
2. i gots a gadget fixation
3. i have a peepee

Three ways that I am stereotypically like a girl:
1. care products
2. i get squirmy at bugs and spiders, especially cockroaches; though, rats I can handle
3. i agree: men are scum

Three celeb crushes:
1. Meg Ryan
2. Sung Hi Lee (oh yeah)
3. Maura Tierney (there's something kind of cute about her)

Three people that I would like to see post this meme:
1. Kevin
2. Hougee
3. Misc Musings

Whew. There. Done. Now you do it too, even if your name isn't on the above list. And then comment here and let me know you did it. And then that way, we can all waste a ton of time that we'll never get back. Hahaha.

... Another Dollar

Huh. Something new everyday.

- Since returning from my vacation, I now have fruit flies in my apartment too. Taking action to remove them (from this world).

- The other day, I spotted a fat cockroach in my apartment, scampering along the corner behind the desk -- it's only the second sighting in my place since I moved in, but to me cockroaches are unacceptable. My friend killed it while I pranced around and screamed like a schoolgirl.

- My Kenneth Cole belt broke, and I don't have another black dress belt. (This might also double as a sign of a growing gut, but let's take one issue at a time, hmm?) And the pants I'm wearing today are too loose to hold up on their own.

- More pressure from work, and the directors -- in their infinite wisdom and eagerness to do something -- are doing exactly the wrong something, which makes me question whether they are really trying to help this location or if they are playing a larger game with ulterior motives.

- I don't really feel like celebrating my birthday. Year over year, I don't know if my life is improving or not.

Blah. It's just another blah kind of day, I guess. Ah, well, I'll get over it.

Dream a Little Dream

Some nights ago, I dreamt something that really drove home that this issue is bothering me pretty deeply. Here's what I can remember (based on some notes I typed out just after waking from it).

In the dream, I had done something wrong; it was something bad/illegal. Anyway, I had been hiding (it) for a long time, all the time guilt-ridden, letting it ride heavily on my conscience. After a while, I thought I had put it behind me, given it closure in my life. And I had, kind of.

But there I was, cleaning up the mess I had made, returning whatever it was I had stolen or trying to fix whatever it was I had done. In the "scene", I was actually packing things up into a large suitcase, getting ready to move/run after I had returned to the scene of the crime. (It was right on the sidewalk, where I was packing up, strangely.)

And cops were swarming all over the place, working on other cases, responding to other calls. Nothing to do with me, and they weren't even suspecting me, but it felt like they were closing in on me (my own pressure put on myself).

My ex drives by, sees me crouched over the suitcase, fumbling frantically. She casts me a scornful look and says, "Looks like they're coming for you. Too bad we're broken up and you screwed up, or I would cover for you."

And she drove off. I couldn't blame her.

Youch. But hey, what do I expect, really. Even in my dreams. Except that, well, I could dream about anything in my dreams, and that is what my silly little peanut-brain comes up with. No wonder I haven't been sleeping well lately -- nothing like a haunting like that, huh? Happy Halloween.

Finish It

Complete this sentence.

"If you stare at it long enough, ..."

Happy Friday (and weekend)!


My last 15 hours, compiled into 15 easy steps.

- I miss North America.
- Tons of pressure from work yesterday, and employee morale is slightly lowering from the stress.
- Only got a half-ass workout, and nothing else was on the cardio TV except Gothika.
- Got home to find I left my A/C on all day. Again.
- Received an email I didn't like, which threw my mood off.
- Was tired and nodding off, but I had to do laundry (first load since coming back from my trip).
- I was short $35NT ($1.10US) from getting another stamp (collect X to get a free Y) at the supermarket.
- The dryer didn't dry my clothes completely, but I left my laundry card upstairs.
- My clothesline bar (affixed about 2m up above the doorway in my apartment) fell when I hung my moist shirts on it.
- Had to lay all my moist undies and socks all over the couch to dry, leaving me nowhere to sit.
- The cable TV signal just up and died on me. (This morning, it miraculously came back, so I was able to enjoy CNN over cereal.)
- Proudly wearing Uppercut's new Frank "B" pants (in Almond) today, but it's slightly raining outside. (Still awesome, though. I love these pants.)
- Almost stepped on my apple while riding my scooter. (Still good, though.)
- Last to leave work last night, first in this morning.
- Another day of work work work.

What does today have in store for me, do you think?

Cause and Effect

People don't seem to realize it, but sometimes being the person who does the (unintentional) hurting hurts as much as the person being hurt. This is, of course, difficult to measure, but that's not to say it isn't true. Sure feels true.

Close, But ...

So my flight landed in TPE some twenty minutes late, at 3:23pm. My aunt and uncle were ultra-kind enough to pick me up and drive me home, so it was about 6pm when I arrived at my apartment complex. I went downstairs to the mailbox to open it up and fetch my keys so I could go inside, but ...

No keys inside.

My brother and sister were supposed to leave the keys (my copy) I lent them in my mailbox so that I could use the mailbox key to retrieve and get home upon my arrival. Turns out, they delivered my keys to someone else's apartment -- my neighbour's, who wasn't home. This kind of thing is not supposed to happen amongst intelligent MEng graduates.

I sat in the lobby cursing them (all of the above) until 6:30pm, went out for some food and came back, and continued the cursing. (Unfortunately, my own little voodoo doll was in my luggage, and I didn't feel like digging it up.) I waited for another hour and a half before, at nearly 9pm, I got so irritated and pissy that I went down to the mailboxes and peered into the mailbox (8-2) that my brother put the keys in.

There is absolutely nothing worse than coming home from vacation and not being able to come home.

Turns out, it was still there; they hadn't opened that box up. (The neighbour is some city official, who knocked out three units on the floor -- 8-1, 8-2, 8-3 -- so they probably had all their mail at 8-1 and didn't need to check 8-2.) I looked around, bent the door open as much as I could, and fetched the keys out of the mailbox through the drop slot with a bent chopstick.

Just before 9pm, I was finally able to get into my apartment and get a break. Still livid.


Long day (again). Did some last-minute shopping for other people, made my final Apple Store purchases in SF, and flew in from SFO to catch the last half of the rehearsal dinner (but not the actual rehearsal).

Got called in on a last-minute late-night emergency: handmade dinner placecards hadn't been finished, and it was the night before the wedding! Hougee and I swooped in, got our production hats on, and rattled through the guestlist. We got a good system going, and were done by 2:00am.

Came home, packed as much as I could, because I won't have much time tomorrow night and I leave for TPE on Sunday morning. And I don't plan to be too sober after the wedding; I need to get my drink on, after the events of this week!

And I still haven't written my speech yet. I have some thoughts and ideas, but nothing you could call a speech. And as of this entry, neither has the groom.

Face It

An Awkward day, with a capital A. I went to my ex-company in the Bay Area today, mainly for informal meetings with the managers. Of course, my ex also works there, so I had lunch with her.

It's the first time seeing her since breaking up, the first time in about 9 months, the first time since many things have happened. She looks great, she really does, but then that always happens post-breakup, doesn't it?

I think it was good, for her to say a lot of things that were on her mind, straight to me (or at me, as the case may be). Of course, nothing I said could make any difference. Nothing ever does when you're the accused. Still, I felt good that we left with some laughs in our conversation, but generally dark for the rest of the day (and night).

There's nothing like an ex's view on our relationship to make me feel terribly lonely in life. I want to cry, but something won't let it out -- that something seems never to want to.


Okay, quick. Words are not coming to me as smoothly as I would like. What should I say in my best man speech on Saturday??

In Somnia, Soon to be in SF

My flight is in four hours, which means I need to get up in one hour, and I can't sleep. My schedule for the two.five days in the Bay Area is really packed, and it seems that I will be utterly exhausted throughout all of it, with nary a rest until I'm on the plane back to TPE on Sunday morning! It also appears that my jetlag was never over, on account of the caffeine and alcohol I've had (in light amounts but fairly constant between them) since boarding the plane to YVR.

New Word

vacation: va-ka'-shən. (pronounciation key)
n., v. tr.

1. leisure time away from work devoted to rest or pleasure.
2. the act of making something legally void.
3. seeing what rain is like in other parts of the world.

Actually, though it's been rainy on Sunday and Monday here in Vancouver, the skies have opened up this lovely morning. The sun is out, the air is exactly as crisp autumn air should be, and I think I'll go enjoy a coffee while cruising or sitting along English Bay.


I hate packing. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. I feel like I want to have everything with me, so I can choose what to wear / use when I'm at my destination, but I can't, so I have to choose now, before I even know how I'll feel when I need it. So I keep procrastinating my packing. So I end up packing last-minute, like now.

Time Wasting Efficiency

So I was wasting time one day, honing my skills at it. And J just IMs me in the middle of our conversation:

he: survivor is on now, so I'm watching that as I talk to u
me: Haha ... multitasking.

That got me to thinking, we need to come up with a term that means "multitasking at wasting time", like doing many time-wasting things at once. I mean, it's strangely paradoxical because it's really about being time-efficient at time-wasting, the concept of which I think merits its own term.

So. What to call it?

That's a Wrap

A good wrap. I'm dying for a good wrap with salad and some meats. Healthy food. Please. But where? There are none in Taiwan that I could find so far, but I heard there's a new Californian wrap place in the Shinkong Mitsukoshi A4 building. So where are your favourite places for wraps in your area?

Coming Back to Haunt

It's funny (not funny-haha, though). It's hard for me to put things behind me, but on occasion, I really do try. But somehow it keeps coming back to haunt me. And this time, it's ganged up with other parts of my past, armed with yet other parts, and tag teamed me. Sometimes I'm not sure how to deal with this stuff, even though I should have known it would come sooner or later.

Note to self: need to find a large rock to crawl under, hide out.

Please Hold

So you're standing at a sight to behold, and you want a picture with you in it. Aside from doing the arm's length self-portrait technique -- which invariably results in a picture of half your heads or shows your arm telescoping in 2/3 of the picture -- what to do? Why, silly, you look around for someone to take the photo for you: an innocent passerby or some other unassuming tourist. But be careful: here's a true story.

My friend visited SF, and she had a Sony DSC-P5 digital camera. She had someone take a picture for her and a friend out by Fisherman's Wharf, and the guy dropped it on the sidewalk. Ouch. The zoom lens wouldn't retract, so pictures were perpetually zoomed in and off-center, and the camera wouldn't close.

So I think you'll agree, there's the innate fear of making sure we pick the right people to be our momentary photographers. And when I ask a stranger, I always look to see if I can find a "responsible" person -- you know, not a crack addict lying on the sidewalk. Even so, I worry every time I hand my camera to someone. Every time. So let's discuss the proper approach to finding the right person(s) to take a picture for you:

- Wrist strap. Okay, you say you almost always use the strap when you have your camera, but that doesn't mean he/she will. How do you make them? When I hand my camera over, I always hold the strap open as a clear and easy indicator they should "insert wrist here". It's easier than being all,
"Oh, could you please put the strap on? Your Parkinson's makes me nervous that you might drop it. I'm not paranoid, I'm just -- well, really, I mean ..."

- Speed kills. Hey, we live in a rough world! People are always trying to get something for nothing; I just hope it's not my something they're trying to get. So I try to make sure I find someone I think I can outrun, in case they try to take off with my camera. (What. Could happen.)

- Age gap. I try to pick someone in my generation, because chances are a little better they know how to use a digital camera. That is, at least they will use the LCD, instead of still trying to use the tiny little optical viewfinder.

- Common ground. If they're tourists, or avid amateur photographers, they probably have their camera out. If they have the same camera as you -- or the same series, or even just the same brand -- then bingo! They're a leg up on anyone else, because they at least know where the zoom is and how to use it (kind of).

None of this guarantees anything, but it puts me a little more at ease than randomly selecting my next loser. We talk more about this later. Let me know what factors into your photographer picks!

To The Bone

You know what sucks? It sucks scootering in the rain with your rain jacket on, and still getting soaked completely through your shorts, right through to your underwear. And your shoes. And your hair, because your helmet was left hanging from your scooter out in the rain last night. And still having another 40 minutes on the road before you can get home. I wish I had a car.

Here, Fishy Fishy

This past weekend, I really wanted to steam a fish dish, but I couldn't find Chilean sea bass at the local market. I could only find some frozen filets, but I wanted fresh. And I didn't know if this was because (a) they didn't have any, (b) I was looking in the wrong supermarket, or (c) I had no idea how to say/read "Chilean sea bass" in Chinese. (I have since learned that it's "智利鱸魚" in Chinese.)

A little research turned up that the Chilean sea bass' proper name is "patagonian toothfish" (dissostichus eleginoides) and in fact isn't really a sea bass at all. And because it's a deep sea fish, there's pretty much no way to get this fish fresh; they're frozen upon catching them.

"There’s a 90 percent chance that the fish was frozen first. Most of the Chilean sea bass that is caught these days is landed in some of the most remote waters of the planet and frozen aboard the boats. The quality of most of this fish is excellent, as is the quality of most of the refreshed fillets that are sold to buyers who think they are getting fresh."

I'm one of the people who was buying "refreshed" fish from Ranch 99, thinking it was fresh. I couldn't tell, and I have to agree that the quality of fish was quite good. Anyway, I learned that the WWF and other organizations are warning about severe overfishing making the species quickly threatened: illegal catch is ten times the legal catch! It almost makes me not want to have any. Yeah, almost.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium -- I love that place -- has a long "Seafood Watch" paper about this, and says, "Striped bass, Pacific halibut and white seabass are your best choices." The National Environmental Trust (NET) also has this PDF report called "Black Market for White Gold", and offers that "The closest alternatives to Chilean Sea Bass in terms of taste and texture are cod and Alaskan halibut."

Maybe I'll give those a try sometime, but -- believe it or not -- I couldn't find black bean sauce anywhere around here. Means I'll have to figure out a new sauce to make, like a red and yellow pepper coulis or something. Huh.

Scrubbing Songs

Cleaning ID3 tags is a huge pain in the ass, and extremely time-consuming. But not cleaning them and allowing my iTunes to have messy song lists and missing album covers is a bigger pain in the ass. So I'm stuck cleaning them.

What's the Capital of the State of Disarray?

Something I learned this weekend: I'm only really motivated to clean my apartment up when I have guests coming over. (Though it should be noted that this is not so much cleaning up as it is cramming all my junk into hidden cabinets.)

I mean, almost all of us have somewhat messy houses; it just depends on your tolerance for such things (and such things building up). I notice that, like a frog in gradually heating water, I have pretty high tolerance for messiness accumulating in my apartment.

And here's what I figured out happens (to me and others). When there's one thing that should be moved / put away, your brain sees it and registers, but no action is taken. Then after some time of actually being there (each time triggering your brain again as a little flag), your eyes tend to "overlook" it and your brain tends to ignore it. Like when a pressed nerve starts to numb out, and your body acclimatizes to the existing stimuli. Or like banner ads.

And then more stuff gets ignored, and so on and so on.

Look around. What's around you that you've been "meaning to" clean up or put away or file or whatever, and you haven't? And over time, it's just become part of that room's "decor"?

I'll start.

At my work desk, it's this plastic bag sitting behind my aloe vera plant.
And this pile of publication PR forms for if my company wants to place an ad in the local industry magazine.
And these 5 business cards from local restaurants that I enjoyed.
And this blue Post-It Note that has outdated testcase figures on it, stuck just to the right and behind my laptop.
And the two foot odor removal insoles that came from the hotel room in Tokyo, which I thought would be neat to keep at home for future use. (Yes, it's actually on the desk.)

If I were blogging about this at home, the immediate list would be tons longer. Now you.


ICQ was the sh!t. And then AIM caught on. And all of a sudden (for me), Yahoo IM was the bomb. Now, most of my friends are on MSN. Many of them are on other networks, but MSN seems to be the dominant one. At least, for now.

Thing is, I don't know why MSN is popular. The software is messy, ads all over, and doesn't seem to have much in the way of user friendliness. MSN doesn't have the store-and-forward feature -- meaning you can send a message to someone who's offline, the server/system will hold onto it (store), and send it along to them (forward) when they log on next. YIM and ICQ do it; MSN and AOL don't.

And yet, most of my (online) friends are resident on MSN as their primary instant messaging address. So. Why MSN? Just because everyone else is?

Silicone Parts are Made for Toys

Okay, I have to admit that I like silicone. Silicone has a nice feel to it, a nice jelly-like bounce to it -- almost skin-like, really -- and it is durable and resistant to all sorts of abuse.

But can it really do wonders for scar healing? I've heard of silicone sheets and silicone gels which somehow promote the healing of flesh wounds and dramatically reduce the scarring imperfections. But there seem to be two very distinct and separate schools of thought: one who believe it to work (and don't really understand why), and the other who say it does absolutely nothing. Neosporin is obviously in the former category; my former dermatologist is clearly in the latter. I mean, normally, I wouldn't be this vain about it, but these are fairly visible areas on my arms and shoulders. I wouldn't want it to end up like my appendix scar.

So, in your experience, what are the best scar treatments around? Do these (pricey) silicone sheets and gels work? Or no?

So Emotional

Little annoying things were starting to happen to me, and to those around me: car accidents (minor), lost items, dropped possessions, those kinds of things. So I figured it was time to visit the 龍山寺 temple again.

As soon as I stepped inside of the gates, something came over me. Or rather, something surfaced from within me, and I suddenly wanted to burst into tears. Tears swelled in my eyes and blurred my vision; I had to stop walking towards the temple. This is particularly foreign to me because I've never had any reaction like this to anything even remotely religious before, and there I was, feeling like these things wanted to be released from inside me.

Of course, I held it in; nobody wants to see a grown man cry (not even if they say they do). I went along my business: making the offering, burning incense, thanking them for my luck and recovery from the scooter accident, and then praying for continued protection for me, those around me, and those near to my heart.

Even now, when I really think about it, i can feel tears wanted to well up again. That's new.

Back Up, A Day Too Late

Well, after much consulting with J, CY, and Mike after my initial pricing research ... I finally decided on the Seagate harddrive (80GB, 5400rpm, 8MB cache, 5yr warranty) for my Powerbook. I went to the local electronics market and found that some quick bargaining made the Toshiba one (difference: 16MB cache, 3yr warranty) about 10% cheaper. And since it had been a really tough decision before, this difference in pricing tipped the scales. Armed with my new drive and a new precision screwdriver toolkit, I spent a good part of Saturday installing the harddrive (based on the awesome PB Fixit guide), reinstalling my apps and utils, restoring my preferences and data to the new drive. Not very fun, and left my drive with a measley 13GB free.

But doing this on Saturday meant I wasn't up and running with the machine until it was too late to wish my good buddy jaojon (TP) a very happy 31st birthday. I've known this guy for some 23 years now; grew up with him a block away, and he's the one responsible for 教壞我 ("teaching me bad stuff") in my formative years. Anyway, this is really a long-winded way of publicly announcing that ...

- He's my good buddy of 23 years now.
- He's 31, so happy belated birthday to him!
- My being bad is pretty much his fault, but I still love him like a brother.

I'm hoping he reads this, since I know he lurks by every once in a while. Happy birthday, dude.

Heals for Reals

You know what? The human body is amazing. Especially mine.

I mean, when I think about it, it was just two weeks ago and my wounds are nearly done healing themselves up. I'm not wearing any bandages (except over the elbows when heading into public), and it's just the elbows (again) that are not yet done with the scabs. Everywhere else is busy growing its raw, new skin.

In some ways, you could say that the injuries were just scrapes, just flesh wounds. But if you had seen me that night, with all the blood and raw flesh showing, you would have guessed it was worse. A lot worse. And now, I'm a ton better.

Fashion Suspense

I've never owned a pair of suspenders before, and for good reason: there are only a few occasions where I think you can really pull them off. For instance, if you're ...

- a gangster in a zoot suit in the 40's
- an investment banker type even up to the 80's
- a swanky swing dancer
- a fireman (with or without shirt on)
- careful not to let anyone see/know you're wearing them.

And I don't think I could swing any of these. In fact, I'm quite sure I can't. So I continue to not own a pair of these.

[ Sidenote: if you Google for "suspenders" images, you get a whole 'nother set of suspenders results coming up. For the record, I'm not talking about those kinds. ]

Lookit Me

Eye contact is important in communication, and I'm not that good at it. My issue is that I don't keep good eye contact. When I'm talking, my eyes often get diverted to things down the hall, outside the window, on the desk, whatever. My dialogue doesn't suffer, but people might get the impression that I'm simply not paying as much attention as they would like.

And when I try to keep with the good eye contact, it feels a little awkward. So when I'm talking to some people, I don't know if my eye language is coming off as too forward, too shy/polite, whatever. Because sometimes it shows genuine interest in the other person's words, sometimes is shows they have your full attention, and sometimes it shows that you're really making an effort to get to know them. But, you know, sometimes it just really feels like staring.

I figure that if your eyes start watering or drying out, you've definitely established eye contact for too long.

Adult Male Deer

I come to you, asking for help. Here's my question:

What kind of a stag party should I arrange?

It's in Vancouver, mid-October. The request from Mr. Groom is to keep it clean; we're not the type who enjoy strippers anyway. (Honest. They don't necessarily like it, and they're not into you; it's their job.) Instead, it's just us guys hanging out together again, so I'm thinking it should be a very MEN kind of day. Steak dinner, then sipping brandy (or whatever your choosing) and smoking cigars, talking shop while sitting in big fat leather armchairs. But before that, what shall we do during the day??

[ Sidenote. Today at lunch: filling BBQ pork with rice and 3 sides for $75 NT ... and then Starbucks macha tea frapuccino for $130NT. That's messed up. ]

My Live Progress Bar

As my scabs form fully to cover the open wounds (ie. no more plasm clinging to the bandage), I'm able to cut away more and more of the white bandages. It's like icebergs melting away on my arm. Gives me a sense of daily healing progress, like my body is accomplishing something. :-)

Helps also that the minor scabs are coming off nicely, revealing the fresh new skin underneath -- the kind of skin that shows new growth, and that those beauty products seem to want you to feel like you have (though without the horrific accident to cause it).

But whenever there's a slight breeze across me (like air conditioning), whenever my skin tightens (or goosebumps), or whenever I flex the arms in a certain way, my scars hurt. It's like Voldemort is in the vicinity or something. Weird.

And what is it about scabs that just make you wanna ...

Marketing: Not Just About Slogans

Recently, over dinner, something popped in my head (this happens often). It was a little clip from a Friends episode (this happens more often than it should). This time it was Chandler, trying his hand at off-the-cuff slogans when he decided to take up marketing:

"Cheese. It's milk that you chew."
"Crackers. Because your cheese needs a buddy."
"A grape. Because who can get a watermelon in your mouth?"
"The phone. Bringing you closer to people ... who have phones."
"Bagels and donuts. Round food for every mood."
"Pants. Like shorts, but longer."

And I thought, "You know, I could probably do that." I peered down at my dinner, and several popped out in rapid succession:
"Curry: looks like poo, but tastes much better."
"Taiwan: dirty, smelly, hot and unbearable, but at least it's cheap."
"Spandex: show the public where your fat is."
"Alcohol: makes life prettier."
"Air conditioning: because sometimes ... it's too hot."

I dunno. What can you come up with?

Heal, Boy, Heal

A visit to the local hospital (三軍總醫院) yesterday landed me some more drugs, and I bought some extra supplies: gauze, antibiotic-soaked non-stick gauze, elastic "fishnet" sleeves, some red medicine (優碘).

Another uncomfortable night of sleeping on my front, and waking up unable to get out of bed without considerable pain on each of my wounds. But each day, I get by with less and less dressing, and I think I'm actually healing now. Been reading a bit about scrapes, and I'm hoping this black area on my left elbow isn't an infection. Wounds are starting to solidify, and as they dry, they're shrinking. I think this is a good thing, as far as recovery goes, but sure hurts like the devil when they're tightening my range of motion and gripping on the gauze (that supposedly I leave in and will dissolve or fall off when I'm all healed).

On TV, I've seen clips of heroes getting scraped and cut while saving the day -- think "Die Hard", "Lethal Weapon", etc -- and suddenly I feel bad for them for after they have to nurse all those injuries. Even the flesh wounds must be incredibly painful.


Been a long week, let me tell you. I needed to go out, have a decent time, and get to know my colleagues on a more social basis. So last night, around 9:40pm, I was heading to the night market to meet up with one of them there.

I was going through the tunnel south on KeeLung road, and pretty close to the right side of the tunnel. There was a girl on a scooter front-left of me, and I figured I'd move over to the right a bit more. You know, follow the rules of the road, observe, assess the situation. What I didn't expect was for anyone to actually be in that tight space to my right, and he was (I guess) trying to pass me on the right.

And that's when the fun began: our handlebars clinked, and I lost control.

My bike wavered, wobbled, and slid on its right. Luckily, my leg wasn't caught under the scooter as it fell over. Instead, I did the shake, rattle, and roll -- probably not unlike what you see in movies, actually. I have injuries, but it's all scratches and scrapes across my back, shoulders, and my elbows are banged up. And asphalt is embedded in my pants (and skin). Neck and waist are sore and a bit stiff, but that's to be expected. I need to buy a new helmet, of course -- because this one's had an impact and the gouges to show for it -- and my t-shirt is wrecked.

Him? He walked away with a little scratch on his bike, and he had a cut on his right hand.

I was going a pretty good clip. Probably 70kmph -- wait, no, probably not -- probably 60-65. I mean, that's not extreme, because I noticed that a lot of traffic flow is around that range anyhow. And he was going faster.

But the guy was nice during the aftermath; stayed with me, called the cops, went to the hospital with me and stayed until I got out. He had been hit by a car before when he was on a scooter, so he was pretty understanding and he was nice about everything. (That's pretty good, as far as Taiwanese people are in accidents.)

M nursed my wounds and I crashed at her place (instead of going all the way home), and I took this morning off work.

Anyway, this constant pain all over my body is a pain in the ass. Sucks. But all in all, worst hurt in this was my ego.

* "Scoter" is a common misspelling of the word "scooter" here. So common that one of our clients' project codenames is "scoter", even though they say it as "scooter". Just waiting for project "umbrerra" to come along now ...

Saving Myself

Immediately after it happened, I stumbled, tumbled, and then rolled a few times. It's interesting that during the rolling, I actually had the presence of mind to protect my head, tuck my chin, and perform all those safety evasive actions they tell you to. Didn't think I had it in me, but I guess you never cease to amaze yourself when times call for it. I guess tucking my chin wasn't going to do much, particularly inside the helmet, but better than letting my head bounce around needlessly, right? Injuries could have been a lot worse, but because of my absolutely amazing survival reflexes, they're not. I suppose your mind just switches back to Primal Instinct Mode and natural responses take over. Pretty neat.

Peace Unto You

It's been a hectic week -- three client meetings a day, every day, scattered across this county, and then playing host to my three visiting colleagues -- and it ain't even over yet. I need some rest.

But let's imagine to another time, a funner simpler time. When are you most at peace in mind, body, and soul? Is it when you are doing something, some activity? Is it a certain time of the day/night? Or when life is crazy like it is for me this week, what do you do to get yourself to that "happy place"?

And Then Slapped Again

My Mac won't boot up.

Chapped and Slapped

Lesson learned: do not launder your jeans and some new T-shirts after having some drinks. No matter how cool that combination washer/dryer unit in your hotel room looks. No, not even after you've figured out how to operate the all-Japanese-button thing. Because there's a good chance you could leave your lipbalm in your jean pocket, which will work its melty little way through all your stuff, and there's no way to pull off that look after. So not only can I not unchap my lips, but I get slapped with the penalty of wrecked clothing.

Idea gathered: this could be an effective way to ruin someone else's clothes if they piss you off somehow in the public laundry facility at your apartment complex. (Hmmm, save for later.)


_so here I am, in the _apple store on Ginza, in _tokyo, Japan. _This place is absolutely packed, so even though the rent on this storefront much be absolutely impossibly high, they:re probably raking in a good amount of money. And far as I can tell, the store itself is actually quite small -- a lot smaller than their silver crunchy coating would suggest. _apologies for the weird typos and stuff, because on these versions of the Powerbooks, they moved stuff around from where (I think) they:re supposed to be.

[ edit: I was wrong. There:s 4 floors in this place! first floor is all the stuff you find at the front of the other stores; 2 is where the iMacs and PowerMacs live; 3 is a theatre for workshops and tutorials; 4 is the iPod area with Shuffles and kids stuff and other accessories. Fun fun fun. ]

[ edit again: Okay, now I:m in the Shibuya Apple Store and just spent about an hour and a half listening to a live session from People to People as part of the Apple Store's "LIVE: a month of great music" program here. Happened across it as I was strolling through the area and heard this wicked beat coming from down yonder. Anyway, time to find some chow and people watch around here. ]


You know the story -- it's been on CNN for 23 out of every 24 hours. Well, I just got in touch with my friend phasedOUT, who lives in the city with her extended family. She is, though she's lost everything she's ever owned, thankfully okay and all of her family is accounted for. Our wishes go to those suffering from the wrath of Katrina. Damn her.

Don't Mind If I Do

Okay. Girls tend to dress cute so they look cute. This implies that they look cute to someone else, who is doing the looking while they are doing the ... being cute. I have to say that Japanese girls are very good at this. I mean, very good at it. But regardless, here's the question: if a girl goes to lengths to be noticeable -- either by being super-cute or by being outrageously noticeable -- is it okay to give her a long look? (And by this, I don't mean like a wolf staring down a helpless sheep.)

I've noticed that in Shibuya's Center Gai and Koen Dori, this seems completely okay. In fact, they seem to welcome the attention. But let's take normal girls today. Think it's still okay by them?

Lost in Translation

Because I'm currently in Japan, I'm used to seeing strange contraptions that are intended to simplify your life by making everything in it more complicated. In the bathroom, this means toilets with bidets and sprays and heated seats, and probably motorized seats too (so you and your boy/girlfriend can finally stop fighting over that classic issue. But this was new.

I stepped into the bathroom of my hotel room, and sitting on the wall right next to the toilet was a remote control. Quietly and happily sitting in its bracket, it brandished three big buttons:


Okay. "Bidet", I know. I avoid it, and suggest you do too, unless you enjoy a spray of warm water that feels it's trying to give you an enema. And "stop", that's obvious. But "shower"?? I mean, these silly Japanese designed a freaking remote control to start the shower before you even got in?? I suppose I could see the point: you could start the water from the taps without worrying about getting sprayed from the showerhead, or you could turn on the water before you got in so that it could have time to warm up to the right temperature.

Huh. Clever.

So let's see. I turned the showerhead away (towards the wall) and pressed it. There I was, standing in the bathroom, intently watching the bath tap fixture and showerhead, ready for the adventure ahead. Nothing happened. Instead, I saw a little tiny hose in the toilet move out, point at me, and spray me in the face. (From my yelp, you could tell that I was evidently not ready for the adventure ahead.)

This is why accurate translations and icons/buttons are so very important. Don't say "shower" if it's not about the shower; instead, write "intrusive gush of water where you'd least expect it". Geez, imagine the surprise I would have gotten if I had actually been seated on the throne.

Head for the Hills!

Lunch was at the Yokohama Sky building, home of the world's second largest Sogo. But we were up on the 28th floor, at El Torito -- nice to have mainstream Mexican food, since I've been off it for about 3 months now.

So here I am, chilling on the 49th floor of the prestigious Roppongi Hills Mori Tower. Were I opening up our Japanese office (as my ex-supervisor did), I would definitely have chosen this location as well -- as a member (roughly 600 USD/mo), you get access to a set number of meeting room hours, unlimited workspace hours with WLAN, and refreshments in the fridge, nap room (which they called "meditation room"), lounge, library, everything. It's just so damned gorgeous in here, and the view from up here make the Tokyo Tower look pretty disappointing.

I just wish my camera battery hadn't died this morning, and that I hadn't left the charger back in the Tokyo hotel. Dammit, but maybe I can squeeze a few more shots out of it.

Tokyo to Kyoto, Yo

Today was a long day: two meetings, train rides galore -- and hell, they ain't cheap -- in the sweltering heat, and my first-ever Shinkansen ride from Tokyo to Kyoto in the west.

My first night in Japan was spent in the crazy-busy hustle and neon-world of Shibuya/Harajuku, gawking at strangely-dressed and -costumed Japanese teenagers. By contrast, my second night was spent in the serene peacefulness of Kyoto / Arashiyama, sitting on a boat on a lake on a cool evening watching traditional ukai fishing. This cormorant fishing method is really something worth seeing.

[ Oh yeah. We wandered into a tiny Japanese restaurant that night, where I sampled some of the best tenzaru soba (cold noodles) and various tempura vegetables in my life. But the real treat was a plate of assorted sashimi ordered by my colleague: toro, some kind of fish similar to red snapper, a special kind of ika, and a single piece of a very rare ebi. Yum. ]

Pimp My Flight

I've never been a big jetsetter, and still don't consider myself one, but China Airlines got it into their heads that I was worth one of their Dynaster Flyer Gold statuses. Hey, who am I to argue, right? It's really not a big deal. I mean, mostly the "added benefits" are really "reinstated services" -- they've just removed the restrictions on things that you should have gotten anyway.

Like, being able to get through the check-in line quickly. Instead of actually speeding up their check-in process, they just let me skip the line. Or, like increased weight allowances for baggage -- now I get 30kg for short flights instead of 20kg, big whoop. Before, they would hurry you through check-in, collect your boarding pass, your flight stub, some baggage tag scanner code slips, and then stuff it into your passport and off you go. Now, I noticed that they take the extra time to carefully arrange them in a cascading manner (so you can see every item in the bunch), all nicely aligned. Alright, because I'm so anal, I'm really appreciating that.

But most of all, I'm liking the pimp VIP lounge that I get to rest in, read papers in, watch HDTV in, have complimentary snacks and drinks in, and get internet access in. This way, I can enjoy a drink, rest up, and blog. Like now. Cheers!

Learn Something New

Something new I learned at work on Friday: ants cannot survive 30 seconds in the microwave. They kind of melt, sort of, but everything is intact. Like, their bodies are still their bodies, but it's like they're wet and plastered against the inner surface of the nuker machine. Yeah, I thought it was pretty neat too.

We'll Be Right Back ...

I have another gripe on an otherwise gorgeous Friday: commercial breaks on Taiwanese TV. Back home, TV commercials came on in a very obvious way. The show stops on a scene, then quick pass through black before the first commercial comes on.

But not here. There's no fade to/from black, oh no. Here, they pounce on you. All of a sudden, you're no longer watching a show, you're watching some ad about a dog carrying a notebook computer around. And the first few times, you're not even sure where that handover is; maybe there really was a dog in the show carrying a notebook, you can't tell anymore.

Heck, sometimes (on the movie channels) you get instead a 5-second delay where it tells you to "take a break" from the TV and goes to ads. Sometimes it's a picture of a little tropical island with a swaying palm tree, sometimes it looks like a blue-ish screensaver. But more often, you don't even get that courtesy. You get an immediate scene change, straight from movie to ad.

And they choose the most inopportune scenes to change in, like -- in movies I've seen before, so I know -- they put them in the middle of a scene. In a vital scene, one that could be pivotal to the movie plot. And I'll tell you that more than once, I've been shocked to see that they've even cut it in the middle of an actual conversation. Like, one person asks another the no-bullsh!t-cut-to-the-chase question about something, and then the other person ... nothing, they do nothing. Because it's that damned dog carrying the notebook again.

Harajuku Girls?

So. Business trip to Tokyo and Yokohama next week. I'm there the whole week -- Sunday to Sunday -- but meetings are only Monday through Thursday. So I have Friday through Sunday to re-acquaint myself with this city; haven't visited since 1990!

Question is, since it's been 15 years already, what should I do around Tokyo? Already one day (Friday) will be taken by my colleague driving me around the countryside, and he suggests to use the other day(s) to go around the city. What else?

Taiwanese News

I'll say this much: Taiwanese TV news sucks.

It's like watching tabloids about current events. Big attention-grabbing fonts and letters on every screen cut, and not like CNN ticker-style informative type either -- it's like the kind you see when people are first playing around with colours and fonts on their word processor or something. And then you get the orchestral hit samples (like in Windows) to give emphasis on "shocking news", but done in a super cheap low-budget production kind of way.

And heck, the stories they cover. They're all depressing and/or alarmist news (as if the world is about to end in a horrible way) or it's largely insignificant or unimportant to the general population (like some old lady in a little town somewhere had a flood in her basement and lost her collection of puppets or something). With all of these, they seek the most useless opinions from the most under-educated people, and then represent them as if they were the norm/popular expression.

Please. And this is how the general population gets their current events??

We can talk about camera work too. Those damned cameramen spend a lot of time shooting scenes of people crying, or some part of their body that is really uninteresting (like their hands) that perhaps one might watch if one were listening to them in person to infer more (like if they were rubbing their hands together while talking). They always seem to focus on something you'd find rather irrelevant, like if you were actually on-site, but suddenly lost interest or let your mind wander. Imagine all that, with the camera stability of the Blair Witch Project or some W5 hidden-camera expose.

Taiwanese news sucks. It's no wonder I keep the TV on in the channel 65-76 range (and #5 for CNN).

Drunky Drunk

Here's one: what kind of drunk are you? Some people get yappy, some get quiet, some get violent, but I think most become just more friendly.

Me, I get "happy" usually. Sometimes a little obnoxious, even sometimes very very mellow, it really depends on the environment that I'm in at the time. (For instance, getting a buzz in my house is different from being buzzed at the club.) But all in all, when I get some alcohol in me, I'm just usually very goofy and just generally happy.

There's a theory that your behaviour when you're drunk is based on what you perceive that drunk people "should" behave like. So in a way, it's a projection of the "proper drunk behaviour", enacted by you. What do you think, is this accurate?

No Better

Last night, I worked out some frustrations at the gym, and then came home and cracked open a bottle of red and drank about 1/3 of it with my new wine glass. Well, one of them; there are four in total. Slept well.

Today was better. Had a good breakfast, took my vitamins, got through a bunch of stuff at work. Afternoon brought some bad news from an internal meeting, about the future direction of our location if we don't fix things quickly. Nothing we didn't know already, but with more pressure this time.

And then it got worse. Turns out my Edward Scissorhands victim has quite a few issues with me -- with my title, with me being (7 years) younger than him, with me having a different outlook and approach than him. It's all there, in an email he sent privately to our director. The director's response (where he simply quoted the whole of that original email)?

"Figure it out on your own, kids."

(No, not literally, but pretty much that's what he meant.) So tomorrow, amidst my full day of meetings and other tasks that he's just shrugged off, I have to figure it all out with him. Lovely.

Maybe I go and finish off that bottle tonight.

To No Avail

Huh. Had a rough morning, work-wise, which put me in a real dark mood. It's really more directed at one guy than at the predicament that we're in, but that doesn't make me feel any better. Felt just jumping over the desk and lunging at his throat with some kind of Edward Scissorhands contraption, but I didn't. (Plus, I would have to spend several days fashioning that kind of weapon first anyhow.)

And get this: even a grande caramel macchiato (no foam, with whip, naturally) is doing nothing to help my mood. When you're in a downer kind of day like this, what do you do?

Project Wheel Reinvention

You know when you need to overhaul your computer, you need to backup all your stuff, right? Contacts, calendars/appointments, email archives, bookmarks, documents, music, photos. Even stuff you never realized might be important, is. So you know when you back that all up, then you wipe out your machine, and being the completely-fresh reinstall process?

That is not the right time to realize that you didn't back up your stuff properly, and that now you have to revert to data that is between 1 and 4 months old. Dammit.


Frolicking. Remember how, when you were a kid, you used to frolick? I LOVED frolicking! It was the absolute best, especially in the summer sun, sprinkler on or no.

That freedom, that sheer freedom, of frolicking without a care in the world. Never minding which way the wind blew, which angle the sun shone from, where the waves were lapping. Frolicking was the joyous outburst of pure bliss, the epitome of carefree expression.

But it's a sad fact: I haven't frolicked for quite some time now. I'm really gettin' the itch, if you know what I mean, for a real good frolicking. Maybe after the rains have stopped, I shall.

Down, Girl

Yesterday, though the Sony Ericsson makes no claim that their W800i is compatible with Apple computers, I plugged the USB data cable into my Powerbook and my phone. And, as with all peripherals plugged into Mac OS X, it worked great: the Memory Stick Duo in the phone showed up as a removable drive without fuss.

So I setup up the phone as a Bluetooth device for my Mac, and no problems: now my phone is a file vault, and I can sync contacts and calendars with it, and it can also act as a remote control for my Powerbook! Fantastic. I had several applications open, connecting to the phone via USB and Bluetooth. Life was rolling, comin' out Milhouse.

And for some reason unbeknownst to even my little peanut brain, I just grabbed the phone and unplugged the USB cable without first unmounting it from Mac OS X. Wow, the Powerbook did not like that: I got a shaded-grey screen of death, which told me to hold the power button down for several seconds and let it reboot.

I did, and it did. But it didn't completely, which I felt was a little unfair, since I did do what it told me to do, and I figured it was only right that it should hold up its own side of the bargain.

But it didn't. All the apps that were running at the time of crash have now decided to side with the computer in protesting that I so violently yanked out the volume when they were so happily using it. That means ... no more access to IM (Proteus), music (iTunes), email (Mail), contacts (AddressBook), calendar (iCal). That also means ... I'll need to do a full archive-and-install these next few days to get her back up and running again.

If it were Windows, I would gripe for a few minutes, and then accept my fate because of my choice. But this is a Mac. I expect more. I paid (slightly) more, and it hurts to see that I'm getting this kind of Window(s) treatment. But for some reason, a strange suspicion came over me. I checked it out, and I was right: my baby is just over a year old, meaning the warranty is out now. If she behaves and recovers, I'll buy her a little cupcake or something.

Fighting Back

They left me alone for a while -- maybe they simply forgot, amidst surviving the typhoons -- but they seem to have come back again. And this time, I'm not taking it lying down.

Here's what I heard: when a mosquito bites into you, you're supposed to flex. And apparently, your flexed muscle will hold the mosquito's tube in there so that they can't escape, forcing blood into him/her. The rumoured result is that you can actually make the little bugger "pop" from the blood pressure. And I heard this from a whom-I-thought-was-relatively-reliable source.

"Really?" I asked.
"Not sure," he admitted. "That's what someone told me."

So much for that. But I have a different theory.

I figure that if you feel the mosquito bite in already, you should just let them finish sucking your blood, and then reward it with a cruel and sudden death. Death by hand, death by foot, death by whipping towel, death by electricution, I don't care. Just death.

Why do I suggest this? Because mosquitos have to inject some gunk into your bloodstream before sucking the blood out. This gunk (there's a scientific name for this) stops your blood from clotting (which I presume would kill it) while it's sucking or digesting or whatever. So it sucks out your blood when it's mixed with some of that whatever-stuff in it. I figure that if you kill the mosquito once it bites, chances are it's already injected you with junk, and that's going to create a major mosquito-bite-welt around the puncture. Instead, let the bug suck some if that stuff back out in their normal course.

Then smack the crap out of that thing. And bask in the primal glory of being the hunter.

Cost of a Typhoon Holiday

So Friday was another typhoon holiday for us, announced to cheers around the gym where I was. And since a day off in itself isn't that fantastic (especially if the weather just sucks and anywhere you want to go means you have to get drenched even with your raincoat), I decided that I deserved to treat myself for every typhoon holiday. Why not? Something to lift the spirits on a downer moody kind of day, right?

Well, it turns out this holiday, I had a big treat in store, somewhat unexpectedly. Wandering around looking for a suit (for work), I stumbled into the basement of the Shinkong Mitsukoshi mall and into fnac (a French consumer-electronics-retailer-slash-bookstore). And there it was: the w800i on display. I giddily approached the display case and inquired.

"Is it released already??"
"No, not yet, sorry." A look of disappointment must have flashed across my face.
"But sir, if you like, you can pre-order it today for pick up on Monday."

The price they were asking was about $5 USD more than the best price I could find online, and I had the comfort of dealing with a major retail chain, and having my spot in the queue saved so I wouldn't need to line-up and fight for the limited stock with the rest of the gadget-hungry folk!

So tomorrow, I should get a call that my phone is ready for pickup. I'll finish up my personal trainer session, shower, scoot on over, and happily plop down my AmEx for the $17,800 NTD ($555 USD). And then I take my new baby home.

Hurray for typhoons!


I have my new raincoat with me, and a full helmet too.

I bought a two-piece one made by Jump, which is one of the popular brands around here. (I avoided those one-piece trenchcoat kinds, which I call "raindresses".) I wore the jacket last night for the first time, to dodge some light rain. It has a mesh lining inside, and a vent in the back, which is good: the mesh prevents sticking to your skin, and the vent vents hot air as you ride. And there's a little arm pocket for ... things that you would normally put in an arm pocket if you had one. I don't remember much about the pants, but they're just pants -- no shoe protection. This suit came to $700 NTD, originally $790, because I downright suck at bargaining.

The helmet I bought is the Zeus 508, which is a full helmet that flips up. It's silver and it actually fits my head (as in it's small enough). And I'm using my old workout glove when riding, to lessen the callouses on my gas hand (right hand).

Actually, all this stuff together makes the bike a lot easier to ride, and makes it react better to me, letting me ride a lot faster as well. The glove makes the throttle more responsive to my hand, and the helmet blocks out the whistling and extra noises. The jacket, it's just for looks, so I can turn heads at how cool I am.

It's awesome. I look so cool (not). Even cooler with the jacket (really not). And now, I'm equipped now to handle the upcoming typhoon. Except for the workout glove part.