We've Got You Surrounded

Our TV at home is stuck on CSI: CSI (the original set in Las Vegas), CSI Miami, CSI New York.

In these shows (and other cops 'n' robbers movies), they hone in on the criminal (or suspect), and cops come in mass numbers, driving up with their sirens. Let's say that the bad guy is holed up in a motel room, and the cop cars pull up around that motel room door. Usually, they're parked radially, all facing the door like rays from a sun.

Here's the thing: is there some kind of parking formation that real cops are supposed to follow? Like, a parking arrangement which allows them to get in hot pursuit quickly, in case the guy gives chase?

You know what I mean?

Because I can imagine that some methods of parking would cause them to be blocking each other when they all try to leave at the same time. Just wonderin'.

Learn English!

It might seem ironic to you, but I have to admit that since I've moved to Taiwan, I've definitely learned some new English words here. You wouldn't think that a native English speaker and writer would pick up much from a non-English fluent region, but it happens.

The first of two examples for today was a huge banner outside of the Sogo BR4 department store, proudly proclaiming to everyone near that major intersection:

"Have an ebullient summer"

I thought to myself, "Uh, what?" I mean, I didn't know what ebullient meant! Should I be frowning from being insulted by a retail outlet? Or pleased with a pleasant wish from a major corporation? I had to look the word up!

Another came in the form of a notice to all employees.
"Please don't pour the dregs into water dish."

I wasn't sure if someone in one of the more creative departments was trying to dump their narcotics as cops came busting into the premises, or if it was just a simple innocent typo. Turns out, it was neither. I had to turn to the Chinese version of the notice (stating "紫菜紅蘿蔔的殘渣") before I learned what dregs were, and thus, what they were telling us not to flush into the water dish: someone was making instant soup at work, drinking most (but not all of it), and then dumping the rest into the little receptacle dish under the water dispenser faucet, and subsequently plugging up the plumbing in it. The dregs they were pouring were bits of veggies.

Keeps life interesting.

Gmail and Growing

Wow, I just happened to glance down at the bottom of my Gmail page, and it told me this:

You are currently using 1243 MB (19%) of your 6350 MB.

Remember when Gmail just came out, and people were all raving about the 1GB of online storage they gave each account? I know they've been upping it gradually over time, but it's been a while since I looked, and damn, I have 6GB of space there!

Even so, given my rational fear of losing data, I fire up Mac Mail every so often to download my mail, and keep a copy of it on my laptop (and another copy on my backup drive).

How much space are you using on your online email?

Illogical Logic Test

A little backgrounder on that post about the IQ testing. We got to talking about brainteasers and fun problem solving because our company now makes all applicants complete during the interview. The result? It was apparently found that most candidates could be weeded out just by this stage alone! Amazing!

And then, we managed to get our hands on the actual test, read through it, and burst out laughing: the test questions are completely error-ridden -- instructions, grammar, etc. -- prompting you to make assumptions as to what they want to ask. And you can't ask for clarification, because your test administrator has left the room until the time is up!

So here's one of the questions, verbatim:

Halley Comet gets closer to earth every 76 years. “May was born when I am 27 years old, I saw Halley Comet while May was 2 years old.” May’s father says. “I was born when my father was 25 years old, my father saw Halley Comet at 8 years old.”May’s grandfather says. The question is: How old was May’s grandfather while May’s father was born? (Please write your algorithm down)

Yeah, right??

The problem itself isn't difficult, but you need to figure out who said what! And under time constraints and all-round interview nervousness, you're likely to make an (incorrect) assumption just keep trudging through to get the answer.

There are no fewer than 5-6 native English-speaking people on staff here. Would it have killed anyone to run the test by one of us??

Sniffing Out the Problem

Remember how I had that nose issue about half a year ago? Well, very mysteriously, it just went away by itself. Maybe it knew I was posting for advice about it, got freaked, and left.

And then decided to move back in again.
I smelled it again just two days ago.
Yesterday, it seemed to fade a bit.
But it smells like it's back again today.

I have a feeling that it's related to my diet, or is a cryptic symptom of my health in some way. My current hypotheses on this are:

1. Sauce.

Three days ago, I had potstickers from a popular joint just around the corner from my work. I have these pretty often, but this time I had it with chili bean sauce (豆瓣醬) -- I used to have this a lot, but some months ago, traded it in for a garlic soy sauce and/or sweet vinegar instead. Lo and behold, the next day, I guess it worked into my system and the nose thing came back!

2. Health.
I've been sick for a while in November and December -- a really nasty virus has pretty much hit everyone I know in some time or another this winter season -- and even now, we're trying hard to shake that last 5% that just won't go away. I don't remember if I was sick back in July 2007, but maybe it's related to my health at the moment.

3. Diet.
A broader generalization, perhaps it's just my diet. Or, maybe the two are related: food and health. When I'm sick or getting sick, my body has cravings for different types of foods (mainly carb-heavy stuff). So perhaps my current diet has a surplus or a deficiency in something, and that's giving me this "reminder" in my olfactory senses?

I dunno. Any thoughts or hints?

Mom was Right

So yesterday, we got around to talking about brainteasers and skill-testing questions, and I looked online and spent the 13 minutes to do an IQ test. And you know what?

Mom was right: I am a genius!

Dear Ben,

Thank you for your interest in the test at IQTest.com.

Your general IQ score is: 143

You may login at ­http://www.iqtest.com/login.html at any time to view your score, purchase your Complete Personal Intelligence Profile or The Consciousness Exercises, or edit your account settings.

The Team at IQTest.com

It's no wonder I find that so many people around here are idiots! It's because I'm way ahead of the curve!

PS: No, I'd put my money on the IQ test being pretty inaccurate and unreliable as a measure of one's intelligence, just based on my result! Maybe it's set up so that only the real idiots would believe their own score.

Close One

I've always used an electric shaver. Always, ever since my dad first taught me how to shave (with his Braun). Sometimes the kind with circular blades (like Philips and Norelco make), sometimes with the straight back-n-forth blades (like Braun and Remington did), but always electric.

Over the years, however, my chin skin's taken a beating. Maybe it's the sun, and all those damaging UV rays. Maybe it's the air: you know, all those free radicals or whatever it is that convinces women to spend hundreds of dollars on a 50mL canister of cream. Maybe it's the exposure to wind since riding on a scooter, or maybe it's just the constant abrasion from having to shave everyday.

Whatever it is, my skin's getting undeniably rougher, and I can't get a really close shave anymore. Like, just an hour after I've shaved in the morning, I can kind of feel some stubble still there.

So I've heard that the traditional shave -- that is, using a razor blade, even a disposable one -- gives a much better end result. I mean, the kind where after you're done shaving, an attractive lady can't help but approach you from behind and run her hand caressingly over your freshly-smoothed face.

Yeah, like in the ads!

So this past week, I bought myself one of those Gillette Mach3 Power blades, and a can of shaving gel. Please note that I have no idea how to properly shave with one of these things, and in the process, I am acutely aware that a very sharp object will be dangerously close to vital arteries. I will be basically armed with only this how-to and my wits.

So here's to hoping I make it through to write about it later.

Schiesser! Too Rich for Mey Blood

We wandered onto the floor of the shopping complex. We've been here before, but never to this floor -- it's men's apparel. And in a little section in the middle of this floor was the men's underwear.

I'm not talking about your Fruit-of-the-Loom stuff; I'm talking the kind with which you can cuddle your butt, and pamper your twig and berries. The nice materials, the good fits (apparently), all that.

We saw one rack of wares with a bold logo: Schiesser. I read it out loud.

"Doesn't that mean 'sh!t' in German?", M asks.
"Yeah, I think so ..."

Probably not the best name for underwear. I know it's spelled differently (by one letter) and sounds different, but it still leaves a lot of room for error. I mean, what if I started a brand of underwear called "Skitmarks Inc." or "Shetbucket"?

They had a promotion going, $1000NT ($30US) for three plain white underwear, probably the cheapest of any of their product lines. I picked up another box and flipped it over. $780NT apiece. That's $25US for one grey underwear.
"This brand is from Germany," the saleswoman volunteered.
"Oh. Uh-huh. Thanks," I replied.

But no thanks, not even if it's from Europe: this butt is perfectly happy in underwear that's easily half that price. We move on.

And then, with a display on a glamourously black column, there they were: Mey. These designer treasure holders came in lots of patterns: checkers, prints, flag colours, you name it. And in designing it, they seemed to have carefully considered the ... aspects of the male anatomy. I give a subtle nod of approval. The dangling white tag next to the pouch caught my attention.
$2480NT [$75US]

I'm sorry, what was that?? Hey, it's nice underwear, but not that nice. For that price, I could probably pay someone to cradle my ass wherever I go!

Who the heck prices these products, anyway?
Wait, who the heck buys them at those prices??

Not Politically Neutral

I've never taken much interest in politics: not in Canada, in the USA, or in Taiwan. I mean, it's been 7 years since I've lived in a place where I could actually vote. And with every successive country I move to, the politics are getting arguably more and more entertaining (and utterly ridiculous).

I just realized over lunch the other day how little I actually know about how voting and elections work in the United States, what with primaries and even which ones are Democrats or Republicans, or what values they stand for. I do know that the major difference for the outcomes of American politics is who gets all the money in the country, and which lobbying groups get the funding, while the rest is all wasted away anyhow. And I know that current guy got in by suing the other guy, and has launched the nation into a bunch of wars, a Patriot Act, and generally made travelling throughout the world that much less comfortable than it already was, in effect wasting hours of every flight of each traveler, every day.


In Taiwan, I pay even less attention to the political situation. I mean, I know there's the whole long-drawn kefuffle about how close of a relationship to maintain with China (such as, whether to allow direct flights between Taiwan and China). But beyond that, far as I can tell, all other "hot topics" are in other countries normally reserved for discussion between bored housewives: whether to rename one of our memorial monuments (and if we do, then what to call it), whether to hold a referendum at the same time in the same booth as the upcoming presidential election. It's laughable, and the media (which is garbage in Taiwan) eats it all up, and dumbs down the nation's intelligence.

And from some of the people I've spoken to, it's actually working.

My question today is, what with all the junk in politics, is it worth paying attention to? Should I be taking more of an interest in politics of the country I live in? Better yet, where do you go for your news to filter out the tabloid reports?

Victor's Secret

So on the first day of the year, I bought 3 items from Private Structure (to provide a structure for holding my privates, naturally). I've now added them to my collection of new underwear from Zara, Calvin Klein, and the other ones I recently bought from Private Structure. (I've been on a shopping binge for undies and socks recently, dunno why. Maybe all mine have reached the end of their lifespans.)

Anyway, since I've always been partial to briefs and boxer briefs, the new ones are also the same. (I only wear loose boxers to bed, so that my boys can sleep comfortably too. In the daytime, I like to have my body parts ... kept in place. But that's neither here nor there.)

Now, these new ones are snug and form fitting. But they (from all the brands except CK) seem to have forgotten one vital feature for such an undergarment: a sufficiently-sized "pouch" to hold my goodies.

No, I'm not bragging or anything.
They're somehow really damned tight!

WTF? I almost feel like when I put them on, my eyes will pop out. And no, I'm not wearing a size too small either. Given that they're different brands and of different design/styling -- European, American, and Asian -- they shouldn't all be like that, right?? Something's really wrong. Either that, or present-day men prefer to have their cashews treated like stress balls.

No, really, I'm not bragging.

What am I doing wrong? My undies didn't come with an instruction manual, but is there some technique to ... uh ... product placement when I put them on? Or is there something else I should be paying attention to??


On a side note, I appreciate Joe Boxers for keeping me warm on such cold days. Thank you, Joe, for cupping me so.


Here's the first post of the year, on the first day, of a year of many firsts for me. Big plans, baby, big plans. I'm not in the habit of making new year's resolutions -- because anything worth doing is worth doing without waiting for an arbitrary start date -- but here's to hoping 2008 holds lots of good stuff for all of us! I think I'll start it with a delicious meal somewhere. See ya!