I Hate Cats

I had a run-in with a black cat today. It caused me substantial grief.

"Well, just leave all your stoopid western superstitions behind, foo'!" - my ever-so-loving sister

Actually, yeah, it was my superstition that caused the grief. Sort of self-fulfilling. Definitely stupid.

Stupid cat. I saw it just sitting there in the middle of the damned road for no good reason. I mean, yes, it was a gorgeous Friday morning, but still ... go enjoy it on the side of the road.

Stupid cat. As I started riding closer, it saw me, got up, and started walking in the (right) side that I was planning to go around him. So I'm thinking,
"Sh!t, ain't no black cat gonna cross my path."

I sped up a little to cut around it, and the stupid black cat started to pick up its trot too! At one point, I decided to concede superstitious defeat, to give in to bad luck, and I slowed down, slighted left to go behind it, and then recover my speed again. That damned cat stopped and backtracked over to the left! I couldn't believe it, it faked me out on the right and was coming to bodycheck me on the left side!

Stupid cat! I felt like he was playing some kind of video game with me, that stupid stupid cat. In the goodness of my heart, I had to emergency brake ultra-hard -- yes, I'm pretty sure that's the technical term -- and the bike came up on the front tire and fell over.

Stupid stupid cat.

Yeah, I know, I'm starting to realize that I totally don't belong on a scooter. (I'm going to upgrade my rear brake pad next week.) Stupid black cat. Next time, if it can't decide where it's going to go, I'll just run over it. That cat just ruined it for all cats I encounter on the road in the future.

An interesting side observation: no matter which side my bike falls over on, I always injure me on the left.

Ben Fu Hustle

So ... as a long-awaited follow-up to a previous hair problem, I think instead of cutting it short all the time, I'll go the other way.

I wish it were longer.

I want to grow my hair out, much longer. In fact, I have an image in my head of how I'd like it to look: basically, like Stephen Chow's hair. But particularly (since I saw the movie not long ago) like he has it in Kung Fu Hustle. That style is uncannily similar to the hair of Hero in the Jademan comic Blood Sword which I loved so much as a child.

Clearly, to have lasted the weathering of so many years means it's a classic look of a protagonist! And I am indeed the protagonist of my life, so I think it's very fitting.

But for those of you who know what I look like, what do you think?

2B Evicted

Okay, so it's not really like that: my landlord sold the place I live in, so she can't be my landlord anymore. She had agreed with the buyer that they will honour my rental agreement until its maturity at the end of May 2006 -- I'll basically just have to swap a new contract with the new landlord and tear up the old one. Starting June, it's not clear yet whether the new owner will want to continue renting, or if the rent would be the same.

So this leaves me in a bit of a pickle for living space.

I've decided that I'm going to look for a new place to live. Somewhere closer to central Taipei, closer to the gym, and thusly a little bit further from work. After all, there's probably only one day a week where I'm not in the city anyhow, and usually it means a late-night (though traffic-free) scooter ride home when I least feel like making that trek.

Starting this weekend, I'm going to scour some candidate neighbourhoods for a small (450-500sqft or 12-14ping) studio apartment. I would really like to have a kitchen and at least some in-building laundry facilities (if not in-suite).

Time to start searching ...

Hot and Cold

You know how you're not supposed to put hot things straight into the fridge? Well, you're not. Anyway, I always figured that it was beacuse your hot food would change (raise) the inside temperature too much, thereby affecting the refridgeration of all the other food inside.

But the Taiwanese have a different concept on why not to do this: apparently, immediately cooling hot foods is generally not good for the food itself. They say that this spoils that food more quickly.

So seeing as I'm not a refridgeration expert, I'm really not sure. Feedback?

Just Shapes

After nearly two weeks off the gym routine, I managed to wobble into California Fitness yesterday afternoon. (Almost didn't make it too, since there were too many shops along the way, and I'd decided to walk it instead of bus/scooter straight to the gym.)

I have a grey Nike Dri-FIT shirt that I really like. The materials is soft, the fit is good, and its weight drapes decently on me; but since it's still synthetic, it occassionally suffers from static cling. I put it on yesterday and felt like it was holding tightly against me in the midsection and back. I hate that feeling, especially when it's not supposed to cling! In between sets, I kept tugging at it, rubbing it with my hand, hoping to disperse the static charge so that it would once again drape nicely.

And it wasn't until maybe half an hour into the workout that I realized it wasn't clinging into me because of static at all. No, instead, it was me: in the two weeks of eating badly and not working out, I had grown out and my love handles were pushing out into the shirt.

I was so depressed I could eat a tub of creamy delicious Häagen-Dazs. But I won't. Because dammit, I'm going to win this fight.

Sidenote I: I learned some new terms from Tokyo Girl (her link is on the right somewhere) today: camel toe, muffin top, and whale tail. Admittedly, I knew camel toe before, and have been unfortunate enough to have seen one firsthand. And admittedly, I knew "whale tail" as "peeking G", and I still enjoy seeing those sometimes.

Sidenote II: My betelnut is healing very nicely; thanks to those of you who were rather concerned for my well-being and future ability to father children. However, the sensation every bump I go over on the scooter seems to be magnified. And not in a good way.

Ring Around the Collar

I'll start off by saying I've had a crazy week. Crazy busy, crazy rushed, crazy crazy. I'm completely fried now, and I haven't been sleeping well lately either. Plus, this week has been completely devoid of gym activity.

Anyway, I want to talk about the sweat of the neck. Us men, with our dress shirts and fancy ties, get a lot of friction over the course of a day, in and around the neck/collar area. This means that a just-dry-cleaned-and-pressed dress shirt can go from plastic-covered freshness to must-be-drycleaned-again in as little as a few hours. Worse yet, even after washing sometimes, not all of the neck-rub can be washed out.

True, the shirt has been cleaned and it's not like it's really still dirty or anything. True, it never gets seen by anyone else except you when you put it on (or take it off), but still.

How do you combat this? I've heard of spraying 3M FabricGuard on it so that it won't get stained/dirty as easily, but aside from that (which I haven't tried yet) I'm not sure what to do about it.

Going Nuts

I think I'm going to go nuts this week at work. I'm going to strangle two coworkers if they don't shape up and cut it out with the bad attitudes. Director is in town this week; this will be brought up to him. I hate doing that, but I'm not sure how else to deal with it. What would you do to counter your colleagues' negative comments and generally morale-lowering snarky remarks?

Aw, Nuts

Friday was a great day: gorgeously sunny and warm, some things at work that I vocally disagreed with were cancelled, and I had a good gym workout to look forward to afterwards. I left work around 6:45pm and negotiated the crazy Friday evening traffic into the city towards the gym.

On DunHua North Road heading southbound, the car infront of me stopped abruptly. I squeezed the rear brake, and (since it's a practically useless drum brake) it only slowed me down a little: I was still approaching the stopped Citroen C2 quickly. So I emergency braked with the front (disc) brake with a quick grip, and my bike ground to a halt ... only centimeters away from it.

And then from the sudden braking, my bike catapulted me forward and took me off balance, and it toppled over to the right. The result: really minor scratches on the C2's under-bumper area (from my front tire), and a caved-in taxi rear door in the neighbouring lane from my scooter. And more scrapes over the right side of my scooter.

The police came, the other drivers and I moved our vehicles to the side of the road (after the cops did their markings on the road). C2 Lady's friend came by, looked at the damage, and said it's okay and not to worry about it. Taxi Man had a huge attitude problem, but eventually my taxi driver buddy friend was able to convince him to let us take his car to an autobody and pay for it ourselves (instead of just paying him off the $3000 he wanted), and sorted that out the next afternoon.

But here's the clincher: in the topple, I banged my left knee against my own scooter, and the right handlebar jabbed me really hard really close to my cash-n-prizes. I did a self check the next morning and my right testicle is bruised a deep purple / dark red, so I have endearingly named it my betelnut in honour of the red sputum that is so characteristic of the food.

I'm looking for a car now.

V for Lame Promotion Party

So ... we scored some tickets for the "V for Vendetta" promotion party in Taiwan, held at a popular local nightclub called Room 18 on the Wednesday night. It starts at 7:30pm, and we arrived around 8:15pm to the front door.

Quiet as a ghosttown.

No fanfare, no crowd trying to get in with their coveted limited-release tickets, not even the outside lights were on. We weren't sure it was the right place, or the right day, until we saw a sad little movie poster stand cowering quietly by the left side.

We entered. In the dark doorway, down the dark stairwell, to the first dimly lit room. Three people. And two of them were employees who were preparing for the Ladies Night later that evening. The only signal that anything was even happening was the bright light emanating from the side room, and the booming voice over the microphone.

We wandered in, to a small stage with a celebrity host and some 8 cameras and many heatlamps turned on him. He was interviewing a bunch of teenage girls who were vying to get on his variety show. And at most 20-30 people came to watch.

What the heck?? This was the promotion party?? And they ran out of Coke, so it was just Hennessey on the rocks! Weaksauce.

I heard from an employee that Warner Village (movie distribution firm) ran with the "V for ..." idea, and made it a "V for Vote", so that some celebrity judges could vote in the finalists to that show. Pretty weak link, if you ask me. Even weaker party, and as far as I was concerned, V stood for lame promotion party.

Haven't Woken Up Yet

It's that mental state of exiting dreamy euphoria, re-entering the cold cruel world of reality that gets me. Every morning. And it's in the transitional phase that my mind doesn't totally work, and I do stupid things (or almost do them before I catch myself).

- Brush my teeth with facial cream. (I mean, it's extra-moisturizing, but it doesn't contain tartar- and plaque-fighting agents, and it's also not minty fresh.)
- Spray cologne in my armpits and spritz deodorant on my neck. (At least my neck would be dry, and my pits would be extra fragrant.)
- Bound out of the house in a hurry for work ... on a Saturday. (This just plain sucks.)

What about you?

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Good for You, But Tastes Gross

Protein bars. They're good for you, if you know how to properly supplement your diet with them. So why do they always make them in such rich-like flavours? Chocolate and peanut butter, chocolate fudge, caramel peanut, ... even the strawberry yogurt Zone Perfect bar is sickly sweet-tasting. I mean, they're rich and sweet flavours, but in a really-fake, totally-overdoing-it kind of way.

Okay, I mean, so you eat a protein bar. You know you're doing it for your health, so can't we accept that the bar isn't going to taste that great? Why can't they just make a bar that is healthy, low-carb, protein-rich (so far so day) and have a flavour that isn't so sweet?

We can probably accept a medium-tasting flavour and chalk it up to no-added-crap-in-this-bar. After all, if you were going for taste, you'd probably just as eagerly pick up a Coffee Crisp or a Three Musketeers (or whatever your fancy). So why make the bar try to mimic the ultimate sweets indulgence??

Sidenote: someone on this floor -- possibly from my company or our neighbouring one -- has sh!t that smells like barnyard manuer. You know, that horsesh!t or cow sh!t smell? It's different from people poo. That guy needs medical attention.

Navel Gazing

Today is a little bit like chemistry lab class: I would like to propose a small experiment, and then a question following it. So let's get on with it, then!

Experiment: Self-examination
Duration: a few seconds
Materials needed: none

1. Look down, towards your belly. (Do not use a mirror or other optical device, except corrective lenses.)
2. While looking down, turn your gaze upwards on yourself: look at your chest, look at the top of your chest, and as far up your own neck as possible.
3. Hold it there, and observe.

1. Why do we always make that face? Explain.

Why do we make that face? The one where you extend your jaw down, stretching your mouth (usually while keeping it closed), giving you the look of a Grinch-esque frown? It's almost like we naturally try to stretch the nose/mouth down and out of the way to get a better look. Like that really helps.

Anyway, interested to hear your theories.

You Just Don't Know

Overheard at far eastern hotel lobby one morning (over a year ago, but I remember it):

"I don't understand why [technical employee] can't just do it. It's so simple."

He was talking about some technical employee who wouldn't promise to deliver something "on time", assumed to have been on a conference call earlier that morning. Then this business person went (in my mind) overboard and added,
"Give me a computer: I can do it in 2 weeks."

Okay, you know what? No, you can't. Because if you could, you would have, and you would be in a different position at the firm.

I understand that business people can be passionnate about their business and all that, and they see things simpler than tech people do. After all, conceptually, they usually are simpler: that's the idea behind a concept versus actuality. But I hate when businesspeople say crap like "I can do that", because that's just unappreciating of someone's work and, by extension, disrespectful of that person's skills. It's like a tech guy stating,
"Those business people, they just talk. I can go and talk. Give me a phone, a suit, and a crazy expense account, and I can land those guys in 3 hours."

Ah, the constant battle between business and technical, between marketing and engineering, between dreams and nightmares.

This is How It Sounds

Life in the movies is pretty different from life in, well, life. You see, life in the movies has melodramatic setups, climatic endings, somber transitions, and even stupid nearly-impossible sequences of events that would probably kill any mortal man in real life.

But most notably, life in the movies always has a carefully selected soundtrack that accentuates the emotion at the moment. Think of a romantic gesture, and how the music behind just builds up those feelings for a grand reaction! In real life, you don't get that: instead, you just get the deathly silence while waiting for any kind of reaction. Quite a different beast, this real life thing.

So. My question: if your life had a soundtrack, or if you ever had a moment where you figured some kind of soundtrack would have fit nicely into, what would that have been?