our own 10 year reunion

Well we finally got around to it. As planned, two of my friends from grade 8 and onward got together for dinner. We probably haven't seen each other since 2nd or maybe 3rd year university, so 95 or 96 when I started doing more co-ops than school terms and then ended up working full time. Even then it was mostly a hello in the hallway as we didn't share the same major and had started making different friends in university.

I brought my Montgomery Jr. High yearbook and we went through it to jog our memories about who we've run into or heard news about lately or figured the whereabouts of thanks to Google. It was kind of weird how we might look a little different but our voices and mannerisms largely stayed the same. After we got caught up on the last 8 years or so careerwise and relationshipwise, it was kind of like old times. It was nice to get some perspective on some of my current issues and worries from people who can be objective because I haven't seen them in forever, but who also know my character well enough to give sound advice. *sniff sniff* thanks guys. Many people we talked about still live in the Coquitlam area (I think I would've lost my mind if I did) and I'd say most are married, some with a kid. It was kind of interesting to trade stories. Although it would never be in my character to stick around my hometown and settle down so early, the fact that most of my peers have gotten married and even started families really makes my life seem unstable and unfocussed in comparison. Maybe that's why I've chosen to move to a place where there are so many ambitious unmarried thirty-somethings. Somehow they make me feel less "behind" in life. I guess my NY resolution will be to find some degree of balance day-to-day and worry less about things falling into place because worrying doesn't make it happen any faster. That said I'll be 30 in a little more than a year and I want to see some progress in my life by then!


tsunamis, God and conspiracies

I'm kinda glad I'm home to see Canadian news coverage of the tragedy in South Asia although I'm reading a lot about it online too. Someone pointed me to a forum where people are talking about Jet Li being missing and now found. My first reaction was that it is sick to see people so concerned about one person simply because he is a celebrity when there are close to 30,000 other people who are dead. No they're not celebrities. We don't know their names and I'm certain they don't do kung fu. Most of them were poor locals, many children, who were fisherman or who served the tourism industry in some small capacity. Their lives count too. I saw one American news report that cut in only shots of white tourists in shelters and completely left out any images of the local people. That is just selfish, ethnocentric and disgusting.

On that forum where people were talking about Jet Li, a number of arguments also erupted. One guy asked everyone to send good thoughts. He was blasted by some Christian who said they need prayers, not good thoughts. That person was lambasted by someone who noted that God allowed this to happen on Jesus' birthday and then went on a rant about how there is no Christian God. Interesting how that discussion evolved. I have to agree with the person who said that you can pray, send thoughts, whatever makes you feel good, but what people really need to do is send money. There's at least some sort of guarantee you'll be making a difference.

One other person on the forum submitted this link to an article on a Russian web site. It suggests that these natural disasters might actually be the work of humans. i.e. geophysical experiments by the US military in inducing natural disasters. Here's a snippet from the article. I find it a little hard to believe, OK really hard to believe, but ya never know:
It is well known that the USA and the USSR concluded an agreement at the
end of the 1970s. Pursuant to the agreement, scientific developments in the
field of geophysics for military purposes were banned. All the works in the
field became secret too. However, the works continued anyway, despite the signed
document. It was simply conducted under the disguise of the scientific research
or the development of the double-purpose technology. The point and the purpose
of those developments were rather vague and even mysterious. A lot of
specialists and scientists believe that a special American program HAARP is one
of those developments... It is an open secret that the USA (probably, not the
USA alone) has already constructed high-frequency transmitter facilities. Those
devices can heat the earth environment up to the state of plasma by means of
pumping ions. This makes it possible to control the environment, which might
show considerable influence on the atmospheric phenomena. The owners of this
weapon are able to program floods, twisters and storms, even earthquakes in any
region of the planet.


Last night was a chill night. Got together with my closest friends for a night of Sobe-ing and feasting. We went out to Matsuyama to eat and everyone was really really quiet because we were all reciting our orders in our heads so we wouldn't forget when the waiter came. The food was really yummy even though I couldn't finish it. For some reason my forearm was cramping when I was using my chopsticks. I was complaining about this in my head, or so I thought. I found out later I had verbalized my entire inner conversation without realizing it. That combined with some really annoying time lapses made my evening a little tough to tolerate but I managed. We headed to Josh's to watch a movie after that. It was called In Da House and some guy named Ally G was in it. I have no idea how someone of average intelligence and in a normal state of mind could watch and enjoy that movie. Actually I'm not sure how such a character becomes so popular.

Today the plan is to go for oysters at Rodney's Oyster House in Yaletown. There's a special between 4-6pm or something. The skies are so clear it'd be so nice to be boarding but there was no snow last night. Which means whatever was on the mountain is just getting harder and icier. Pleeeeeease snow!


this is your life

Yesterday was an interesting day. Went up to Mount Seymour (which is about 1/2 hour away from my house) with Stan, his bro and his gf. Visibility was excellent and the view was spectacular (better than the lookout at Cypress) but it just hasn't snowed a whole lot here lately. It was pretty hard packed and I had an incredible wipe out everytime I got off the lift. (I hate pointing straight because I pick up speed and I freak out that I only have one foot strapped in). But it was pretty cheap ($28 CAD if you go with a season pass holder) and we almost had the mountain to ourselves because I guess most folks were out Boxing Day shopping.

After that Ray (Stan's brother) picked up me and his friend Pearson to go for dinner at Daimasu before hitting Barnone. I had a weird "I know you but I don't know how" moment with this guy Pearson. I went to high school with his big sister but we couldn't figure out the connection otherwise. Does anyone out there know how I know this guy? This "I know you but I don't know how" feeling continued at Barnone after I saw piles of people I knew from somewhere somehow. Luckily Joe, who has a better memory than I, re-introduced me to some folks whom I used to party with (no wonder I couldn't remember) and then more people showed up who've been a part of my life at some point in time. I felt like I was on Sesame Street, or was it the Muppet Show, when they do the "this is your life" skit. From ex-bf, to ex-bf's friends, to SFU classmates, to UBC friends, rave buddies, studying friends, friends' exs and friends' younger siblings, to my most recently-acquired Vancouver friends who now reside in SF. They were all there and it was really really eerie. Lucky I was sober enough (not entirely but sober enough) to know what was going on. Note to future visitors to Canada, well drinks are super watered down. Stick to beer if you don't want to get ripped off, or order a double to get something equivalent to a drink you'd get in SF. Squirl was on something like her 9th or 10th and her speaking volume had not increased in the slightest. Willy had something like 15 before he publicly announced that he was "finally drunk."

Not sure what I'll be up to the rest of this week aside from praying for snow, eating, sleeping and watching junior hockey (and any other hockey they put on TV to satisfy the needs of NHL-deprived Canadians across the country).


gloom and doom

It's cold and very damp out and the skies are a dark grey. No more blue skies, this is the real Vancouver weather I know and hate. There's something about the holiday season that drives me crazy. All the stupid commericals with disgustingly happy families cooperatively setting food on the table or excitedly unwrapping presents and all the other Christmas shit. I find it all rather nauseating. I don't think I've enjoyed Christmas since I realized Santa wasn't real. That was really the only highlight after all. Our family functions require quite the performance just to appear as though we all actually enjoy each other's company. I just tell myself I'm there for the food (except for that awful Chinese cake with the chestnut crap inside) and to hang out with my cousins. Even though one of them (and her entire famly) hasn't showed up for the past decade or so. How fucked up is that? I can't wait until all this is over and they quit playing those horrid Christmas carols on the radio.



Last night was a lot of fun. Had dinner with Jong and his new wife and friends I haven't hung out with in years. Funny how some things never change and you can pick up conversations as if you just left off yesterday. After dinner at Aqua Riva we headed to Jupiter Lounge to meet up with more folks and some of my friends from SF, who aren't more than a couple degrees separation from my old Vancouver friends. All CBCs around our age in the greater Vancouver area really do know each other. It was awesome catching up with everyone. Jong was having power conversations, trying to catch up with everyone after being away for about 4-5 years. It was weird to get his perspective on things that have changed. I guess you don't realize everything that goes on when you're close to everything that happens, well at least within the same continent. After all the drinks and photos, a handful of us headed to Hamburger Mary's to get some grub and kill some time before heading to an afterparty that I eventually bailed on. Lucky we went to eat though because on the way home, I ran right into a road block (for you Americans, that's a sobriety checkpoint). With all the food and time I was pretty sure I had safely put away the 2.5 pints of beer I drank. The friendly officer took a big whiff in my car and asked if I had anything to drink. I said a beer. He chuckled and asked if it was a big Australian one. I said no. He asked if I was good to drive and I said, yeah totally. He wished me a good night. Damn I miss Canadian cops. They are so damn friendly.

So anyways, I decided that since my high school didn't have an organized 10 year reunion, I'd stalk out some of my old classmates and organize one myself. I've got a handful of phone numbers and emails and will start making calls tomorrow I guess. For some reason, it's really nerve racking to call people I haven't seen or spoken to in 10 years. I guess I wasn't the only one wondering what my old friends are doing. I got an email through gradfinder.com from a guy who went to my elementary school. He married another friend from junior high. Hopefully we'll all get together for dinner and drinks next week. 10 years is a lot of catching up. I was browsing through gradfinder.com and many of my classmates have 2 kids and almost half are married. Not sure where that leaves me. Career-oriented, overly ambitious, immature, slow or all of the above. Then again I'm not so sure I can compare. I'm one of few Asians from my school and I moved away. Many of the people I went to school with stuck around the lower mainland, some even stayed in Coquitlam and almost all of them are Caucasian. For some reason they tend to have kids a hell of a lot earlier than my Asian friends. Hope this all turns out and doesn't just drive me to reconsider the course of my life so far.


American people

I guess I was naive in believing that the people of America are generally reasonable and non-discriminatory. After all, there was a public apology issued to the Japanese Americans who were locked up in internment camps after WWII and I like to think the American public was generally in agreeance with the decision to issue such a statement. But then I come across an article which states that a survey found that nearly half of Americans think it's OK to restrict the civil liberties of Muslim Americans. It's a relatively small sample, 715 people throughout the nation, but still the results are telling. They are, actually, really scary. Here's a snippet:

The survey conducted by Cornell University also found that Republicans and
people who described themselves as highly religious were more apt to support
curtailing Muslims' civil liberties than Democrats or people who are less
Researchers also found that respondents who paid more attention
to television news were more likely to fear terrorist attacks and support
limiting the rights of Muslim Americans.

sun in Vancouver?

The skies are clear here. In fact the only rain I've seen is a light sprinkle on my way home last night. It's very eerie. It would be perfect weather for hitting the slopes if there were some snow on the local mountains. Since there isn't I'm not sure what to do with myself. My friends are either working or want to go shopping. I don't particularly enjoy shopping here because the selection in anything sucks and the taxes are too high. And right now, the malls are nuts. I went out for lunch with Joe and Jane yesterday for some awesome cheap sushi from Sushi Garden on Kingsway across from Eaton Center and then out to help Joe buy some stuff. After that we had dinner at his place and then worked up some munchies and ate again. I polished off most of a huge plate of nachos. In fact I'm still full. We were pretty much parked on the couch for at least three hours - Amazing Race, some show with the cast of Degrassi Jr High (they're all grown up and now teachers at their old high school, how cheesey), Russell Peters video I brought, then Dave Chappelle's stand up. I'm going to stick around at home I today before I head out for a big dinner to see old friends and their new spouses. My, how things change in a matter of 4-5 years. If anyone's in the Vancouver area I'll be at Jupiter Lounge after 9:30pm.


wheezing in vancouver

Got into YVR this morning at 9:40am, which means my plane left SFO at 7:40 am, which means I left the house at 5:45am. I don't understand people who get up that early to exercise. I consider that hour still part of the night before, not the morning of that day. Doesn't help that I couldn't sleep. Partly because I was depressed that I was spending my last evening in the Bay Area for 3 weeks at home alone and partly because I was paranoid about sleeping in and missing my flight. 3:30 am rolled around and I heard everyone come home and some wonderful puking noises, followed by the kitchen garbage can opening and closing repeatedly for what must've been an hour. Got up a couple hours later after rolling around awake in bed and saw the toilet plunger in a plastic bag and Min's toothbrush upstairs. Doesn't take a detective to figure out that someone must've puked in the sink downstairs. Just classy. Anyways after flying in and having some food at home, I passed out for a couple hours and then got up to test out the new DVD player ($44 at Target) with F9/11 again.

The one and a half hour nap on the plane and two hour nap at home just didn't make up for a night of lost sleep so I turned down a couple invitations to go out and stayed in to wrap presents. I'm suffering from some major Bunny induced asthma. I'm just not used to having such a large furry animal in my presence constantly. Still I am suffering from my usual lack of motivation to go out. I have measured my drive into Vancouver and it's shorter than my drive into SF from our place in Foster City but the highway only takes me part way before I have to endure about 1/2 an hour of shitty slow city driving. Maybe it's that, maybe it's the fact that I have to drive out alone all the time and maybe it's the weather. I have a real hard time getting out of the house here. Just not a holiday spirit kinda person.


last day

Finally it's the last day of classes for me this semester. Got a ride to the Millbrae BART station this morning so that I can be liberated of my car tonight thus allowing me to get shamelessly intoxicated with the other grad students starting at 4pm. Taking public transit is tricky. The signs are confusing and so are the ticket machines (or I'm just really dumb). Luckily there was a guy at the station wearing an SF State sweatshirt so I just followed him on the train, onto the shuttle and to school.

I am so damn full right now. Time did not allow for a hearty breakfast so I got a huge burrito when I got to school. I had wolfed down about three quarters of it when something told me there would be trouble if I continued. The rest of it is sitting on a desk behind me in my prof's office. I'm hanging out here killing time until my class starts. Having to kill time is kinda nice. Much preferred to not having enough time. 2 days til I have to head back to Vancouver to grey skies and rain. I have to get new shoes just for the occasion. Ghetto as it sounds, I have a hole in the bottom of the shoes I wear most. I have only had them about a year but I walk funny so I wear my soles down practically til I'm barefoot. OK this was the most boring post ever. I'm gonna go now. Oh last thing, Eva could you visit my hamsters while we're gone? :)


violence against Hmong

An email I got from one of the Asian media watchdog listservs:

I'm writing to you to let you know of a horrible sighting of hate speech this weekend at the River Hills Mall. A decal store called custom now (located in the herberger's wing) is selling a bumper sticker that reads, "Save a hunter, shoot a mung." (Yes, spelled m-u-n-g). When I tried to educate the management of the store by explaining the difference between usual bumper sticker politics vs. advocating violence I was essentially thrown out of the store. My efforts to have it taken off the shelf have failed so far.

It's obviously referencing a recent incident that involved a Hmong man who shot several hunters after being taunted with racial slurs in Wisconsin (not that killing for any reason is excusable). I just did a quick google search and found a press article on this too:

What the hell is going on in this country?


bad online purchases

Simon and I are parked in front of the TV doing some online Xmas shopping. I was browsing Overstock.com when I came across this pair of pants. Correct me if I'm wrong but do they not scream manufacturer's defect to you?

wtf Posted by Hello

BTW, if any of you including those I don't know in person get into the holiday spirit and feel the need to buy me a gift, check out my Amazon wishlist. :-)

diving the dives

Had a really fun night of Nob Hill bar hopping last night despite volunteering to be the DD. We started off at Swig, which looks like a big room with a fireplace and a large bar along one wall. It was really crowded with really tall people and didn't exactly boast of ethnic diversity, and strangely every guy in there had the standard patterned/striped shirt not tucked in look. Veronica commented that the place gave her a feeling she'd run into a co-worker (she works at a law firm). S had a long list of bars within .1 miles of this place so we set off to hit as many as possible. James decided the goal would be 7. Bar #2 was called HiTide. It smelled funny and there was a really drunk guy in there with a plastic sword down his back and his fly undone. He inched closer until he was leaning on my shoulder so I moved. We downed our beers and moved on to #3 Le Colonial up the hill. It was pretty dead save for the tone deaf spastic dancers on the floor, one of whom was not wearing shoes. We did our standard one drink and bathroom visit and moved on. #4 Who's Your Daddy we discovered is a Korean owned bar where there was a private party going on upstairs. The highlight there was a Jagermeister machine that keeps the stuff nice and chilled. We did a shot. S and James played a game of pool and we went outside. Next door was a small bar downstairs from an old Victorian looking hotel. The place was called White Horse. There was an old white guy tending bar who was extreme welcoming and friendly, as were the other patrons at the bar. We found some seats and the liquor got aflowin'. Some young Asian kids outside, whom I assume we don't know, looked in the window and saw us. They came in and asked that we help them to settle a bet. It was the birthday of one of their female friends and she was to take a shot with every guy in our group. I saw James, Veronica, Johnny and the bartender do the shot. I'm not sure who else did it. I advised S to hide behind the wall as he had just finished a tall glass of some other nasty liquor. He escaped unscathed. From there most folks headed home. Cec and E joined the people in my car at some Thai restaurant for some really tasty grub. James miraculously kept the contents of his stomach in his stomach all the way home. That was pretty eventful in itself. Some guy who must've been wasted was weaving back and forth in front of me. He was so all over the place it took me a bit to decide how to cut around him. Suddenly, he swerved hard to the right and hit the concrete barrier on the side of the highway and drove the car up the wall a bit before crashing back down. I pulled to the far left and sped up to get the hell away. I debated whether to call 911 on his ass but he pulled off the highway and I didn't get his license plate. He must've been the most out of control driver I've ever seen on the road.


finally Friday

Realized last night that after jumping through all those hoops to register for school I forgot to jump through the most important one, paying for my tuition. At SFState they have this stupid system where you must pay for all your credits before you can register. If I say pay for 13 credits but only manage to get into 12 credits worth of classes I have to pay $20 to get the difference refunded to me. How STUPID and unfair is that? Anyways, due to my own stupidity I forgot to pay after I got my health insurance block removed, so I freakin have to drive up there just to submit a cheque. Hopefully I can get my projects done tonight so I can have a normal weekend where I can go out or sit around and do nothing.

I love Nordstrom RACK

One of the best things about this country is the fact that goods are supplied in mass quantities (for a mass population), which means loads of overstock items cheap at places like Nordstrom Rack (my favourite). I scored a pair of Saucony Aura TR6s for $39. They're selling on Zappos for $63.

I didn't want to spend money on anything because of my obvious lack of it, but my current pair of Asics I realized are worn down through the sole such that the cushioning part is exposed on the bottom. Yes that bad. How ghetto. While trying on shoes, it became evident that I'm no longer a size 6. I suspected that my feet have been growing and this confirms it. My big toe hit the end of every pair of 6s I tried on. Luckily we're past the era of foot binding and such. I would be a horrible embarrassment for my family at size 6.5-7 and only 5' tall. How messed up is it that my feet are growing at my age? (I checked and I haven't gotten any taller, just grew longer feet). Isn't it true that our ears continue growing after the rest of our body stops, which is why old people have huge ears? Can anyone confirm that? It seems for me it's my damn feet.


take my remains

Yesterday was my jumping through hoops day. I have to do a bunch of stupid shit in order to register for classes as an international student. The main thing was getting a fax from Blue Cross to prove I have health insurance. It took me two calls to Blue Cross for the idiots to finally fax the thing over last wee. Anyways, I lined up to submit that and the lady tells me a little known fact - I need to buy additional insurance in order to register. I'm thinking, I pay $83 a month which is already inflated cuz having a stupid inhaler jacked up my rate like $6 a month. What more do I need. Well I forgot that SFState or INS, not sure which, requires I pay another $18/semester for repatriation insurance. Basically paying for people to collect my remains in case I decide to off myself or get run over by a truck at the corner of 19th and Holloway where everyone else seems to get run over. So I had to leave the office, go buy the insurance online, print the thing out, and line up again to get my approval to register. Pain in the ass I tell you!

I hate Lowe's

Haven't had time to get to this but I must bitch about Lowe's before I head to bed tonight because they have wronged us too many times now. We moved into our apartment and it was in somewhat bad shape with some really old appliances and stuff but our landlady is excellent and has pretty much replaced every appliance we have. She runs a company and Lowe's is one of their customers so I believe she must get some sort of big discount with them. Here's a rundown of the hell we've dealt with:

new stove and microwave - the delivery guy said they'd come but didn't show on the daythey said they would. This tends to make a mess of my day. When they did show up, they said that our old microwave and stove were not the type that they can remove for me (even though the delivery manager assured my landlord they'd do it). Those guys left my place with the old appliances still in tact and the new microwave and stove sitting in a giant box in my f*cking living room. My landlord called Lowe's and raised hell. Second pair of delivery guys came and scoffed at the guys who said they couldn't do the job and ripped the old appliances out of the wall in minutes.

new washer/dryer - the delivery guy said they'd come but didn't show up. This happened I think about 4 times (Simon stayed home a couple half days waiting for them) until the delivery manager realized that our appliances had not yet arrived from Europe where they were made. They didn't finally make the delivery until 2.5 weeks after the original date promised and we spent many days waiting for the damn delivery as they kept promising it would come the next day, the next day, the next day.

new fridge - said they'd deliver Monday and even promised between 10am and 1pm. no show. Simon called and the delivery manager said they had no deliveries at all scheduled for that day. Apparently they got the dates mixed up. They actually meant Tuesday but assured us Monday. On Tuesday when we called to confirm again just to make sure they didnt fuck up again, the deliver manager (whose job I assume is to look at a calendar and schedule stuff constantly) asked Simon what the date was. WTF??? He finally agreed to noon to 1pm that day, while a voicemail on my phone said between 2pm - 4pm. After much yelling they showed up at noon.

If you totalled all the missed work hours waiting for these idiots from Lowe's these appliances would cost a hell of a lot more than a few hundred bucks I tell ya. NEVER buy anything from these idiots unless you plan to bring it home in your car. I'm quite convinced this "delivery manager" is just sitting in some back room on a pile of papers listing the week's deliveries smoking a huge joint.


they never learn

You'd think that retailers would smarten up after the protests and semi-related class action lawsuit against those biggots at Abercrombie.


Reposting an email from Asian Media Watch.

Jun Zuniga needs your support of his petition to have Burlington Coat Factory remove three offensive Asian-themed t-shirts from their stores:
The petition includes links to images of the t-shirts and an account of his correspondance with a company representative.

Editor's note:
- The t-shirts are novelty t-shirts marketed to teens and young adult. They are sold for $4.95 under the house brand "GI Apparel" and feature derogatory references to Asian people, culture, and religion:
1. “Get Lucky By Rubbing Buddha’s Belly” - This t-shirt depicts the religious figure, Buddha, while making a sexual reference to "getting lucky"
2. “Madam Wong’s House of Tang Good Eats Guaranteed Fresh” - This t-shirt contains a repulsive sexual innuendo (the slang word 'Tang') while referring to Asian women as prostitutes. 3. “Red Monkey - Who Flung Poo Chinese Food Delivery” - This t-shirt depicts Chinese food delivery people as monkeys and Chinese food as dirty.
- The t-shirts are reminiscent of those sold by Abercrombie and Fitch in 2002 that triggered a nationwide protest by the APA community and were symptomatic of the company's bias and lack of diversity in employment and marketing practices ( related articles http://www.asianmediawatch.net/news.html#17Nov04a and http://www.asianmediawatch.net/archive.html#14Jan04a )


lip balm and stuff

Over the last few months, I've managed to acquire quite a collection of free lip balms. A couple handfuls of lip balms from some roofing company they were giving away at Zen fest and a bunch more from the SF Love Parade. They taste kinda like coconut or suntan lotion or something, so I don't like them a whole lot. But what I like less is using the ones I got from the Love Parade in public. They're from the Herpes Vaccine Study for Women and it says so right on the thing. There's something not right about smearing stuff on my lips in public that says Herpes in really big letters multiple times on the packaging. So I keep it in my desk drawer for use at home. The people who work for this research study really should've thought about giving something else away other than lip balm, like handouts or something.

Herpes lip balm Posted by Hello


So most of my days this weekend have been really unexciting, homework, papers, presentations. Lucky for me, somehow Adobe Acrobat crapped out on me. The only thing I can think of that I installed recently that might have messed up my Acrobat is Adobe Indesign. Yes another one of their products. I'm guessing at a potential software conflict here only because I can't fathom what else I could've done to my computer that would cause this. Since then I haven't been able to open PDFs. So tonight I uninstalled Acrobat Pro 6.0 and just installed the free reader. Still doesn't work. Shit. I'm going to have to read an article on my laptop I guess but still, this is not a good long term solution since my printer is hooked up to my desktop.

My evenings actually allowed me to escape a bit. Friday night we headed to a couple bars I wanted to test out for a bar hop with the other grad students next week. Steff's was really dead but the guys got to eat corndogs. I realized why I don't like those things. The batter is corn bread. Duh, I didn't realize that the corn in corndog stands for corn bread and I don't like corn bread. Something about the sweet and gritty combination. We headed to House of Shields where they usually have a DJ but they were charging cover and we didn't feel like coughing up $5 for a bar so a we headed over to XYZ strikingly underdressed and drunk. But I have no pride so we got our Chimays and grabbed a seat downstairs where we ran into Keith and Enlai. I believe from there we just headed back home and stopped at some pizza place in San Mateo for some nasty salty all meat pizza. Maintaining my homeostasis on the way back on the 101 was really challenging. Sitting in the back seat of a car while buildings pass by made me awfully dizzy.

Saturday night I flaunted my poker skills by splitting a pot with Eva first round ($25 each) and taking the $10 second place in the second round to Oscar (even though I was kicking his ass for several rounds dammit). The big gamblers were the first ones out. It's the recklessness I say.

Back to putting together some presentations for this week in both my classes.


new hammies

Couple photos of the new dwarf hamsters we got a few weeks ago. Snowy, the white one and Fatty McChubbs, the fat one.

Fatty leaning on Snowy in the lookout tower Posted by Hello

Fatty McChubbs Posted by Hello


Getting down to the wire and I've got two presentations and a term paper to work on. Today is a day where I have until 4:30 to get stuff done but I'm having another case of slow start syndrome. I've so far eaten breakfast, crushed food for my sick toothless hamster, read email, discussed some events with a friend whom I'm organizing with, edited an evite, stared blankly at my computer screen while lamenting the direction my life is taking (again) and now I'm updating my blog while wishing I could just go to bed for a couple days. It's like I want to hurry up and get this semester over but at the same time I want time to stand still because its passing just brings me closer to graduation when I'll likely be faced with yet another potentially life changing dilemma. Is stability really too much to ask for? &%$#@ Can't concentrate


Ottawa doesn't love Bush

Interesting article about Bush's visit to Ottawa and our relations with the US in recent years. Pretty funny and good recap. I had also promised a summary of how Canada's elections and political system works but I just don't have time so I'm going to direct you to Elections Canada's site. Back to the grind...


long long weekend

Thursday was US Thanksgiving so we headed over to Johnny's for a potluck for all of us orphaned Canadians here. Boy did we end up with a lot of food, my stockpot full of homemade mac and cheese with bacon and smoked ham didn't help. Other dishes included crab, mushroom risotto, fish wraps, turkey of course, stuffing, candied yams, and pumpkin pie. Yummy. I gave thanks for having friends who know how to cook.

The next morning we headed up to Tahoe in a huge pimp mobile (GMC Envoy) rented by Songco and Denny. Somehow we got cursed by the bad traffic fairies because we sat on a one lane freeway for about 1/2 an hour as they cleared some huge accident that stopped traffic going both ways. I think we left at 2pm and got there at 8:30 or so. Cecil had left two hours after us and mysteriously beat us there by about 1/2 an hour. Go figure. I still don't believe people can get to Tahoe in 3.5 hours. That must be a myth. Luckily Denny's Me First and the Gimme Gimmes CD saved the day. Actually that link is not to the particular CDs we had in the car but the mp3 on that page gives you a taste of what they're about. They sing songs from the last 3 to 4 decades including "Somewhere over the Rainbow" and "Nothing Compares to You" really really fast with a punk flavour. It's really hilarious.

Anyways we finally arrived at James' cabin, had a huge buffet at Harrahs, and gambled. Well they did. I'm poor. Simon won enough to cover the trip for both of us minus twenty bucks or so. The next morning there was a big snow storm (would've been nice if it happened the day before) which shut down roads and several lifts and gondolas. That sucked. You can't really maneuver when there's too much snow in big messy mounds and there's wind pelting snow at your face in subzero temperatures. I was wet to the bone and freezing my ass off by lunch so we took the shuttle back after lunch. First time I was the first of a group to get off a mountain but I was getting cramps in my legs from the cold and dampness and shitty conditions and getting maybe a couple hours sleep the night before didn't help my mood or stamina. I was getting annoyed by the huge crowds and the stupid design of the runs and stuff too. Oh well. It was still kinda fun to be in the company of friends in someplace different.

Guess the highlights of the trips were playing games in the car and generally getting out of the city to hang out with good friends and eat huge amounts of fatty fooods shamelessly. Coming back was nothing short of hell (aside from more fun game playing in the car). We left Tahoe at 6pm or so. It took us 2 hours and 30 minutes to travel 15 miles. The hold up? Idiots pulling over to get chains put on and then (15 miles later) taken off. We stopped in Sacramento for dinner with Denny's sister (Denny with lighter skin and long hair) for about an hour at Elephant Bar but still didn't get home til 1:30 am. So minus the dinner, it still took over 6 and a half hours to get back. In that time we could've driven fromVancouver to Whistler (AND back, ie roundtrip) three and a half times, or flown to Vancouver from SF and driven up to Whistler (with time to spare). I dunno. I think I'm going to be a snob and only snowboard at Whistler and local Vancouver mountains from now on (unless I find money to get to Utah or Colorado). Tahoe is just too much trouble for a really mediocre mountain with ridiculously unpredictable conditions. Maybe we can make our next road trip someplace warm.


I miss my health plan

So I learned something new again today about how health insurance works in this country with the shittiest health care ever. I finally got around to calling my doctors office about a line item on my bill that said "you needed to get authorization" (i.e. from Blue Cross for them to cover this expense). It was for 90 bucks. I kinda had an idea what this was and I was right. After I got my mole removed and biopsied and all that stuff I had to get the stitches out and the area checked. In passing I asked the dermatologist if those freckle creams you get at department store counters and drugstores really work. He looked at my face for a half second, checked off a box on my patient file and without asking me, wrote up a prescription for some prescription strength freckle fade cream...and his doing that costed me $90. Seriously, all I fuckin wanted to know was if freckle creams work. I did not ask that he look at me or write me a damn prescription. But you cannot undo his looking at my face. That "examination" was the part filed under "preventive care service" which is not covered.

Incidentally, I took the Rx to the drugstore just to see how much the cream would cost anyways-- $129. I figured I really was not rich or vain enough to pay for it and threw out the RX, but at the time I didn't know I had already paid $90 for the examination of my 3 or 4 freckles. Fuck.

In Canada the last thing the doctor always said (Dr. Angie Hutchinson the best doctor in the world ever), do you have any questions you want to ask me? Here, do not assume it's OK to just ask questions because they might cost you $90 each. Costs me freakin 4.5 hours to make that much money tutoring.

Something tells me it's time to go home to that place where mat leave is a year long, health care is dirt cheap, public schools are good, the leader is intelligent, the citizens are generally liberal and people don't run around with guns. Shitty weather is starting to sound not so tragic afterall and those high income taxes are feeling like they actually paid for worthwhile stuff, like schools and healthcare.


fate and destiny

Do you believe in fate? Christians believe in working hard, being good, and praying a whole lot which suggests that what you make of your life is up to you (and the cooperation of "God"). With all the suffering and devastation in this world I'm really not sure how those folks keep up their faith. I know the black plague way back when actually caused a lot of people to lose faith and the church, in turn, lost power for a short while. Buddhists on the other hand are about accepting their circumstances, being good (so you can come back better in the next life), and dealing with the suffering that fate has dealt you. It's sometimes hard not to believe in fate. Although I don't believe in palm reading, anyone looking at my hand would see it's a huge fucking mess of lines all over the place. My hands look like they belong to an 80-year-old and many believe that means I'm destined for a hard life where nothing comes easy. I'm too scared to see a psychic because to an extent I think some of them are legit and I don't think anyone would have anything good to say for me. You can call it pessimism or you can call it believing in fate. I guess if you really believe in that strongly, you wouldn't be terribly motivated to do anything. Hmm.



I go to the library by my place four days a week to tutor and for whatever reason, it's one of the few places where I can think clearly. I can almost elevate my mood to good just by being there, kinda like when I go to Trader Joe's to see all the really really really friendly cashiers. It made me wonder for a while if I should've majored in library science or something I would never have considered, just so I could spend my work day thumbing through books, helping people find stuff, reading to kids, sitting around, directing volunteers, rebooting computers...y'know, relatively painless stressfree work with good benefits. Hmm, I guess any regular job with decent pay and minimal thinking would be kinda nice right now. I'm poor and think too hard. I need to be rich and think less.

world record

I think I might've set a new world record today for sitting in one place and staring at the wall. Too bad there's no witnesses. Lack of motivation to work on my term projects has progressed into complete immobilization. I have to go out and tutor today but it's becoming difficult to fathom how I'll even get out of my pajamas and out the door. I couldn't even get up this morning. I felt sick and exhausted when I woke up after a series of night terrors. Not too sure why I'm blessed with those. Just fabulous. I think I'm going to go boil myself another egg. Then start on my paper. Maybe.



Hypothetical situation. OK OK so this is actually a true story and as usual I get the short end of the stick at the end of it.

Say you were helping a girlfriend to get herself out of a relationship where she was being constantly cheated on. Say the fucker cheating on her even flaunted his new catch in front of her and all her friends (much to her embarrassment). Then the girlfriend decides to take him back out of desperation despite all his dishonesty, and tells him about all your advice to dump him. He then blows up and threatens to kill you and also chop up the body of another friend who also encouraged her to dump him. The girlfriend, now happy to have her cheating bf back (some women are gluttons for abuse), says nothing in defense of you or other friends who encouraged her to leave him. So death threats and graphic descriptions of mutilation from the cheating bf continue as she stays disturbingly silent. At this point the girlfriend is no longer a friend of yours because she obviously hasn't a clue what a friend is if she sells you out after you spend countless hours being her informant and counsellor.

Now fast forward. It's been a year but nonetheless there were no apologies for the death threats or his threats to cut up bodies etc. Now your own real friends, if they were really good friends, would be out to have this guy's head on a stick, no? Well one of my so-called friends still hangs out with this motherfucker and he and the stupid gf are at his bday right now. What's worse, my other so-called good friends and BF! are at the party too, probably making small talk (and pretending nothing happened) with that psycho and his stupid chump of a gf right now. Tell me would you not consider it disrespectful of your friends to make nice nice with a guy who threatened (literally) to mutilate you and another close friend? If anyone fucked with a close friend of mine, I'd have their head and there's nothing else to it. I wouldn't go pretending nothing happened, that is for damned sure. Why are people so concerned with not ruffling feathers? Learn to cut bait for Christ's sake. You don't have to be friends with everyone on this God damn planet.

Lesson learned, fuck helping people. They don't appreciate it and you just get fucked in the end anyways. As for "friends" hanging out with people who threaten to kill you? Guess loyalty and respect are no longer virtues. Those two are at the top of my list but not everyone else's apparently. If respect and loyalty aren't at the top of your list, don't ever consider yourself a friend of mine. I don't take part in superficial friendships.

Anyways, now I'm at home doing buttfuck nothing by myself while my "friends" and "bf" are out at the bday party of the so-called friend who hangs out with a guy I really should've reported to the police last year after the 10+ emails threatening my life. Yeah I never come out the winner in a difficult situation. I have a newfound appreciation for people who deliberately remain friendless.


going out

I just turned in a couple huge projects so in theory I probably could go out tonight as long as I don't ruin the next day with an all night rager. But really I have no desire to leave the apartment. Don't really feel like there's anything to celebrate. Would kinda rather lay on the couch all night, eat some soft boiled eggs (my favourite comfort food) and lament the pathetic state of affairs that is my life. Seems like everything I do comes at the sacrifice of something else. In class discussion yesterday, a woman who has a few children was commenting on how people wait so long to have kids these days at the risk of having complications and fertility issues. I was thinking because our lives are a fuckin mess until our thirties (if you're lucky). Anyone with an ounce of ambition has to spend time going to grad school for 2 to 6 years or more, pay off loans, deal with moving around the country, recover from job lay offs etc etc. Marriage, let alone kids, is too much of an ordeal. Another woman mentioned she is not quite thirty and everyone else in her lamaze class is around 10 years older than her. I guess that is, in a sense, reassuring that I'm not the only one with a life that will be messy and unsettled at least for the next 6 years but still... Why does ambition have to get in the way of other things?

Diversity Report Card

I wish they were able to cover more than just the major networks but this is interesting nonetheless. Read the full article:

APA Media Coalition Releases TV Diversity Report Card for

Asian Pacific American Media Coalition
18, 2004

Los Angeles, CA – Today the Asian Pacific American Media
Coalition released its annual report card for 2004, grading the four major networks on their diversity both in front of and behind the camera. The report card assesses the networks’ efforts in providing Asian Pacific American actors with opportunities to work in primetime scripted and reality programming; and opportunities for APA writers, producers, directors, and executives. It also considers the degree to which APAs were given opportunities through program development deals and procurement. Finally, there is a grade for the networks’ commitment to diversity that recognizes that recent investment in diversity initiatives may not have had time to produce results.


I hate A&F

Abercrombie didn't want to tarnish its white All American image with nasty Asian and Hispanic people (sarcasm) --> class action lawsuit --> $40M settlement. Good but...

I'm still steaming over the t-shirts with the slanty eyed buck toothed people in rice farmer hats who couldn't pronounce Rs, while parents groups are pissed about their line of thong underwear for girls 7-14. Someone in marketing and diversity at A&F needed to get fired yesterday.

Abercrombie settles race case for $40 millionTuesday, November 16, 2004 Posted:
6:37 PM EST (2337 GMT)
LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Abercrombie &
Fitch Co. has agreed to pay $40 million to black, Hispanic and Asian employees
and job applicants to settle a class-action federal discrimination lawsuit that
accused the clothing retailer of promoting whites at the expense of minorities,
lawyers said Tuesday...


cramming in a speech

I have a ~20 page annotated bibliography and a 2 page proposal for my interviews (with import models...this won't actually happen til next semester) due this week and somehow I decided it'd be just fine to volunteer myself to sub in for someone at Toastmasters and deliver an 8-10 minutes speech. What the hell was I thinking. I guess it was because I had something to rant about when I offered to do the speech. I haven't had time to write it and will prolly just have to wing it. So please help me out. I get really pissed about people perpetuating archaic myths about gay people because I know enough of them to know it is bullshit and hurtful. For example, this 21 year old who has probably never met a gay person in his life mentioned that he hates it when they pretend they're not gay and just act friendly in order to get closer to you in a conniving sort of way and then hit on you once they get their foot in the door so to speak. That is the biggest crock of shit I ever heard. Had he not been the friend of someone I know, I would've laid the smack down. Anyways, I don't understand why so many homophobic rejects think that gay people are out to trick and molest straight people. In any case, I'm going to spend my 10 minutes at the lectern presenting and busting this stupid myths in a speech called "straight not narrow." If anyone else has any suggestions to add to my yet-to-be-written in a mad ass hurry of a speech, please comment.


weird request

I am doing a media criticism project and need to do a values analysis. I'd like to find at least 3 web sites of amateur import car models. Criteria:

- she has to be an amateur/wannabe model, meaning she has never been paid for a modelling gig (it doesn't matter whether she is aspiring to be paid or not)
- I'd actually prefer if she has no aspirations to go professional but just likes the idea of import car modeling for fun/personal expression
- site needs to be her own, not a page on a modeling agent's/promotor's site (e.g. no exoticus pages)
- I'd prefer if she developed the site herself (versus paying a web designer) but OK if she didn't

please leave me the urls in my comments section.

Nepalese food

Went to Little Nepal on Cortland for dinner. Never had Nepalese food before but the menu looked basically like a mix of Thai and Indian dishes. I had the tandoori lamb which was way overcooked and dry. Apparently everyone else's dishes were great though. I think I'll give it another chance just because the service was great, the place is super clean and the decor is nice.


It doesn't rain much here but when it does it comes down in buckets and people on the highways don't slow down and find themselves in 5 car pile ups. I would like to not be at the bottom of one of these pile ups, so pleeeeease slow down!

Speaking of rain, I've booked my flight home. Dec 19th to Jan 9th. Goals include snowboarding as much as possible, seeing friends, eating sushi, renewing my passport, and avoiding those organically enhanced brownies and cookies from hell.


Hyphen Magazine blog

Hyphen has launched its own blog. Full of interesting and timely tidbits from the brilliant editorial staff. For example, the author of The Rape of Nanking recently committed suicide. Rather tragic news but news that I probably would not have heard about otherwise because it is simply not possible for me keep abreast of news and current events, complete my moutain of homework, and keep the apartment from turning into a dump, all while maintaining some semblance of sanity.



It's 4.41 pm and I'm still in my pajamas hammering out a paper. I haven't been outside and haven't seen or spoken to another human being since Simon left this morning. Gotta head out to tutor soon and then back to the paper and hopefully to bed at a decent hour so I can get my ass out of bed by 7.15 am. I think this is an indication of what my life is going to be like til this semester is over. Thank goodness for IM or I wouldn't have any form of communication with another human all day.

It's pathetic really, when I'm in a shitty mood, that I look for things on the web to make me laugh. This kinda made me chuckle. http://www.sorryeverybody.com not as funny as the narcoleptic dog but funny nonetheless. Ah poor Rusty, I think I've seen this video more times than I've seen the South Park movie now.


one of those days


So I get a letter in the mail today that reads like this:
We regret that we were not able to name you as an initial winner of one of
the BEA scholarships. However, you have been selected as an alternate recipient
should one of the primary winners be unable to accept their award (and it does
happen). Given the intense competition, you are to be congratulated on achieving
alternate status. This is, in itself, high praise of your demonstrated
abilities. We will let you know if there is any change in status, which could
take place at any time up to enrollment for the Fall of
2005. Thank you for taking the time to apply. You may yet turn out to
be among this year's scholarship recipients.

I find it hard to be happy about being an alternate, like I am waiting for someone to default on a technicality or drop out of school. I'd feel bad about hoping for the misfortune of another student. This fucking sucks. I need money and scholarships are hard to come by especially since most of them are reserved for citizens and/or people with really unique backgrounds e.g. children of parents from whatever union or company, people tailoring their education for a specific career in something like radio broadcasting or scriptwriting etc. I'm going to buy a damn lottery ticket. This added to the stress of having more homework than is physically do-able given my time constraints AND not really knowing where life is going to take me in the next 5 years is making life really un-fun.

narcoleptic dog

OK some comic relief from all this politics and shit. Check out this video of Rusty the Narcoleptic Dog http://www.milkandcookies.com/links/8653/ I got hooked on watching this over and over and over.



Sorry Songco and Blogger TS for all the emails, I got the turn off comments feature working, there seemed to be a delay in refreshing my page.

I'm going to keep the comments turned off until all the crazy people cool off and go away. It's not like they're going to change my ideas and opinions and I don't care to hear their bullshit about my evil liberal views and those of my peers, posted below.

I don't go on conservative blogs telling the writers how wrong their values are and how they should adopt my beliefs. People believe different things and have every right to believe them and blog about them. Go preach to people whom you might actually be able to sway. Honestly, you'll be more effective. You're wasting your time with your tirades here.


spoiled votes caused Kerry's loss?

I don't know what to say but WTF is wrong with this country?

"Bush won Ohio by 136,483 votes. In the United States, about 3 percent
of votes cast are voided—known as “spoilage” in election jargon—because the
ballots cast are inconclusive. Drawing on what happened in Florida and studies
of elections past, Palast argues that if Ohio’s discarded ballots were
counted, Kerry would have won the state. Today, the Cleveland Plain
Dealer reports there are a total of 247,672 votes not counted in
Ohio, if you add the 92,672 discarded votes plus the 155,000 provisional
ballots. So far there's no indication that Palast's hypothesis will be tested
because only the provisional ballots are being counted."


aftermath (updated)

I am so disappointed in American voters who thought it would be a great idea to keep this monster in office for four more years. Let me tell you, especially my Canadian readers, that not all Americans are proud of this. Some comments heard around school today, mostly from the other grad students and faculty and my friends at Toastmasters:

- how's the real estate in Canada?
- I am so jealous that you are not American
- next thing you know, Bush is going to invade North Korea and no one is going to help us out
- with Bush in office, the whole world is going to hate us more than they already do
- I almost cried on the bus this morning
- my friend and I cried when Kerry conceded (this seems to be a theme)
- it's Kerry's image, we'd have had a better chance if it were Edwards running instead of Kerry
- this is surreal
- I'm wearing all black today and would've worn a veil if I could find one
- people in the cities tend to vote Democrat because we discuss, critique, deconstruct the media messages. we get a variety of media with different viewpoints and conclude that Bush is going to jeopardize the future of this country; the rural folks just get TV and church
- the west coat and northeastern states should just break off and form a new country without all those motherfvckers in the middle and south

I honestly didn't realize, being in this Bay Area bubble, just how conservative and misinformed most Americans are. I can sum up the events of the past 48 hours and what I've learned about American politics in one word - scary. If I can't stay on the west coast or perhaps in Democratic east coast states, I think I will be ready to pack up and go home where I don't have to fear lunatic right wing conservatives.

Those wondering how Canadian politics works, hang tight, I will post something on that when get past some homework I need to do. The basic difference is that we don't have a bi-partisan system, we get to choose from several major parties (working left to right) - the New Democratic Party (NDP), Liberal (my party), Progressive Conservative (PC), Alliance (formerly the Reform Party). There are also some small players like the Green Party but they typically don't get more than a few votes just to make a statement. I am by no means a political expert. I take an interest only at a level that I feel any good citizen should. Anyways, more info when I get a chance.


election day

Don't forget to vote today. Probably one of the most important presidental elections in a long while. I was just watching MSNBC and they are keeping track of calls from voters who have issues, questions and complaints about the whole voting process. Apparently Republicans in S. Dakota have a history of using threats and scare tactics to get the native indians to vote in their favour. They hang out in the polling stations and talk in a threatening tone about the negative consequences of voting democrat and have also been known to walk around copying down their license plate numbers just to scare them a little more. In addition to that, several Republicans were recently charged for illegally notarizing applications for absentee ballots. At least this was reported in the media. With this and the whole Florida scandal in 2000, it's a wonder people still have faith in what this nation calls a democracy. Somehow, the words freedom and liberty don't come to mind when I think of the nation's first people being threatened in a parking lot outside a polling station in S. Dakota.

not at all vague

I was helping to check out some jobs for my cousin who is now in between jobs (as of last week). He's currently in Nevada volunteering for http://www.actforvictory.org/ canvassing door to door getting people to vote (with a slight Kerry slant, yay!) . I would've readily joined if I wasn't buried in homework.

Anyways, I was helping to look for VLSI Design Engineer positions (if you know any, please leave a comment) for him and came across a post from Intel. Companies used to be pretty vague about their visa policies and took it on a case-by-case basis, or restricted visas only to engineers. Well Intel certainly leaves nothing open to interpretation. Check this out:
Intel hires qualified candidates who are authorized to work in the U.S.--
that is, authorized to work without restriction as to a particular employer.
This includes U.S. citizens or nationals, U.S. legal permanent residents,
temporary residents granted legalization under the Immigration Reform and
Control Act of 1986, asylees, and refugees. For foreign nationals who do not
fall in one of the above categories, we limit our hiring of persons
requiring visa sponsorship or individuals currently on a non-immigrant
visa (e.g., H-1, J-1, L-1, F-1, B-1, TN) to candidates at the MS and PhD
levels (or those who have equivalent work experience) who are applying
for positions for which there is a demonstrated shortage of qualified
U.S. candidates

Pretty detailed huh? In any case, I'm going to do a plug here for my cousin. Here's a quick copy and paste from his resume. Please let me know of jobs that suit him. He's got 4+ years experience and, no, I haven't a clue what any of this means. I'm just happy to have abandoned the tech industry altogether:

· Successful experience in RTL design, validation, and methodology including use of Verilog HDL, VCS, Virsim, Signalscan, Perl, SPARC assembly language, LEDA, Verplex
· Extensive experience with silicon lab bringup and debug including use of Lecroy and Tektronix oscilloscopes, logic analyzers, DMM
· Functional knowledge of digital interfaces: Serial I/O modules (UART, I2C, SPI, IR), IEEE JTAG standard 1149.1, SDR and DDR SDRAM
· Experience in a broad range of project activities working closely with other groups' engineers for lab bringup systems issues, ATE test vector program, software and customer applications support of hardware features, mixed-signal issues, DFT, as well as working with EDA vendors



It's that time of the semester where I realize I have, in total, about 50 pages of writing to do between now and 12/16. This makes me panic and it hurts my head to think about it. Bigger problem than that, next semester is my last semester of classes. The one after that is supposed to be focussed on my thesis only. That means, I need to know exactly WTF I'm doing with this thesis. It also means that it's getting late to be searching for grants and scholarships to fund this horribly expensive career change. Finally, this all means that my program is coming to an end soon and my PhD program applications will be due in about 11 months. Which means I ought to know where to apply and where I'll be comfortable living for 4 years starting Fall 2006. This is way too much for my little brain to handle. I don't know why the path I choose is always full of uncertainty and instability, totally inconsistent with my personality. On top of all this, I'm way too fucking old to be running around like this. I wish I could pick a place to live and be happy and just stay there.


No homework got done this weekend. Too busy running around in our costumes. Went to a great party at 111 Minna on Saturday night. Today, thanks to day light savings, we were able to watch the Exorcist at home, hit golf balls, go for dinner at Joy Restaurant (mmm stinky tofu is really starting to grow on me) AND take the BART up to the Castro (SF's gay area where Halloween is a huge big deal) to see everyone parade around in their costumes. There's certainly less chaos in the Castro now that there are security gates, cops, performance stages and the whole nine yards. Whereas in past 30 years (pre-2002) the whole city would just run around Castro street drunk in elaborate costumes. When I went last in 2001, beer bottles went aflying as a fight broke out near me. This year was more tame but the costumes weren't nearly as creative. As usual though, there was the one naked guy walking around who really should've kept his private parts private.

Most commonly heard comment "hey they're iPods". NO, we were NOT iPods dumb asses. We were iPod billboards/advertisements. Apparently there were a couple others like us but I didn't see them. We did see a guy wearing a box that was marked up to look like an iPod though. My favourite costume on Castro other than our own was a group of people holding up squares, rectangles and T shaped blocks cut out of cardboard. The were moving the shapes around in an attempt to be Tetris. It was pretty funny.



I pretty much quit going to DrinkClub almost a couple years back because the music wasn't to my liking and the people I used to go to see also stopped going. The latter was my primary purpose in dragging my ass out every Thursday (aside from when I worked the door for no reason other than to make some cash). Those fine folks I saw each week (Lily, Rich, Denny, Jonathan, Chris, Tan, Joe, Karen, Winston, Shinob, Elton, Jen, etc etc etc) have moved away or found better things to do on a Thursday night and have since been replaced by a homogenous crowd of barely 21 year olds, the guys dressed in black, the girls barely dressed at all. Everyone posing and preening and the ladies sporting the least amount of clothing frequently perched atop some stage or podium gyrating to loud hip hop music while scanning the crowd for guys who might be checking them out.

Still, I try to make it out there for Halloween as the costume contest always makes it worthwhile. I could always count on Denny and friends to come decked out in something outrageous. So last night Simon, Lisa, Shannph and I got dressed up and headed to Loft 11. In we walked and there we were in a room of about 60 people, mostly guys, all dressed in the typical Asian party attire - black clothes. I rejoiced for a brief moment, thinking we'd surely win the costume contest. But common sense kicked in and I realized that there's no way Kelvin would give away a prize only by default. We sat, drank a bit, sat some more, waited to see if anyone from the old crew would show up. No one did. We headed outside to Crepes a Go Go, talked to some admirers of our costumes and then left. I kinda miss having a place where I know all my distant friends and acquaintances will be on a given night. Kinda like Funktion Fridays back in Vancouver. There's no longer a place "where everybody knows your name", a place where I endured music I truely dislike in order to catch up with friends. And I was really disappointed in the lack of Halloween spirit! Are young people too cool to dress up? Maybe it's time to start an unofficial DC alumni lounge night. Someplace quiet where we can hang out, drink and talk.


get me a free iPod!

OK Hougee, I am one of your referers so now I need 5 people to sign up too


according to Wired, it's legit. check the articles on http://www.wired.com/news/mac/0,2125,64614,00.html

Just go to the site, pick your iPod, refer 5 friends or send out the url it gives you, then complete one of the sponsor offers. I picked the inkjet one and got the cartridges cheaper than usual (I used to get em with Carrot Ink) and they also put in free blank CDs and free mag subscription to Forbes (well I chose that one because I didnt really want Blender or Bride or Golf).

You might sign up for some junk mail, but that doesnt tend to bug me too much. what bugs me is spam but I'm sure you all have those clever emails for offers like this so that spam gets consolidated there.

crunch time please vote

I can't vote in this country so I figure the least I can do is encourage others to. And it's not an impartial message. I want you to vote for Kerry. I like Nader's ideas and beliefs, but get real. The US is in dire straits, people are at war for nothing, now is not the time to waste a vote on that guy just in an effort to make a statement.

Here's some un/underreported news about the war in Iraq, much of it from recent vets and families of the troops deployed to Iraq. It'll blow your mind. Please read and please vote.

Interview with founder of Iraq Vets Against War
Iraq Veterans Against War Web Site



I think I like Halloween more than I like Christmas. Last year I was an Extreme Makeover contestant (plastic surgery show) and Simon was a surgeon. Before that, priest and molested altar boy, and before that ghost and ghostbuster.

This year's costume is secret, and definitely may not be as comfortable as last year's costume. But we still don't know what we're doing for the evening. We've done the Castro street thing which was fun but chaotic so probably will pass on that this year, despite the new safety measures, bag checks and security. A nice multi ballroom party (i.e. not too crowded) with a bunch of folks around my age in elaborate costumes for $20 or less would be ideal. Suggestions? The Alf and Alf thing at the Hilton is the only one under consideration for now because Mykonos will be spinning.


Jon Stewart media hero

My favorite part of the CNN Crossfire bitchslap from razor-sharp comedian Jon Stewart. Boy did he catch the hosts off-guard. They were expecting him to come in and crack some jokes but were left grasping at straws when Stewart got serious about his disgust with the show and its thinly veiled conservative agenda (what he called "being part of the strategy"). This will be considered a media masterpiece for decades to come.

STEWART: You know, the interesting thing I have is, you have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably.
CARLSON: You need to get a job at a journalism school, I think.
STEWART: You need to go to one. The thing that I want to say is, when you have people on for just knee-jerk, reactionary talk...
CARLSON: Wait. I thought you were going to be funny. Come on. Be funny.
STEWART: No. No. I'm not going to be your monkey. (LAUGHTER)

See it here: http://www.ifilm.com/ifilmdetail/2652831.



I got on icq back in '97 or so, when I was getting on the Internet via SFU's freenet dial up. ICQ was, to my knowledge, one of the first consumer-oriented IM clients (I'm not including IRC and all the stuff that non-technical people had no understanding of) and I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. But after most people made the switch to the faster, lighter Y! and MSN messengers I uninstalled icq. I think, but I'm not sure, that many of my old acquaintances in Vancouver are still exclusively on icq so I just reinstalled it. Low and behold there they are, some of them anyways. But most of my contacts appear to be offline....which leads me to ask, does anyone use this thing anymore? Or have I permanently lost contact with some old acquaintances? I used to use Trillian but it was kind of a bitch, had to install patches everytime Y! changed some settings so it wouldn't log in.


Just read a few chapters from a great book "Branded: The Buying and Selling of Teenagers" by A. Quart (2003). It discusses the duping of teenagers by the MTVs, Abercrombies and other mega corps. Good read, I recommend it.

I would've thought that by now teens would've smartened up and started a massive anti-trend movement but those marketers are just too clever. I'd argue that, in fact, people are being duped even into their twenties, marching around with labels emblazened on their chests, backs and bottoms as if to say, you can tell the kinda girl I am because I wear Juicy. It saddens me that people cannot find a means of constructing an identity without the help of deliberately overpriced brand name goods to tell a story for them. What irks me even more is that what used to be anti-trend and counter culture is also being packaged up and sold. There is some chain store, the name escapes me, that sells all the stuff you need if you want to be a skater, goth or punk. Back in my day, that used to mean removing labels, making your own clothes or buying it from a second hand store. Doing anything to be unique and not getting duped by all the mass identity vendors. But that is no longer, for you can buy yourself an "alternative" identity. In Quart's book she made mention of a couple enlightened teens who have publicly expressed their disgust with the attempts by corporations to buy them. One dressed up as an Old Navy employee and walked around telling all the customers about the child labour that goes into making the merchandise. Another protested their public school's acceptance of sponsorship by McDonalds. If only all young people had the smarts to understand the manipulation.


about nothing much

Friday night and like the last two weeks I'm sitting at home grading papers and surfing Craigslist for free shit. If I were feeling better I'd be at DNA Lounge watching Kaskade spin for $5 (deal or what?). But after triumphantly getting over that "tickly throat, cold coming on" feeling a couple weeks ago, I started getting all drained and headachey again. Time for more ginseng tea and rest.

We were talking about blogging in class the other day. Brent asked, would bloggers actually read to a room full of strangers their innermost thoughts and musings? Probably not, so why do they publish them online? I didn't answer because I didn't really want to reveal my blog to my class but the answer comes from the words of McLuhan himself. The medium is the message. Delivering your thoughts online is quite different from doing it in person. The message is mediated, it's received differently. Reading written work is more personal and thus it seems more appropriate as the sender to share personal thoughts and feelings with an anonymous audience than to stand in at the front of a room broadcasting them verbally. Am I even making sense? I don't know. In any case, I don't really go into anything all that personal on this blog anyways. It's mostly my outlet for ranting, sharing insight (on the rare occasion because I'm not all that insightful) and poking fun. I also think my head would explode if I didn't do this.

Moveon.org Go Game (scavenger hunt) happens tomorrow. I hope I don't wake up sick. Meet us at Medjools in the Mission at 5pm if you want to catch the afterparty and slide show of the event. Our team is called the Canadian BushWhackers and we even have team shirts so you won't miss us.


city stuff

Probably the only good reason I can come up with for living in SF proper would be the many cultural events that take place on weeknights. I just can't free up the time to make it up during the week for film showings and such. *sigh* Hopefully some of you can. Check these out on the Manja site. I think I'll try to get to the Mountain Warriors Asian American Comedy thing and to the Maxine Hong Kingston reading on the Saturday afternoon. (Anyone else wanna come with me?) I'll have to miss all the others. Sucks. There are just no good APA cultural events in the peninsula.


giving thanks

Since it's Canadian Thanksgiving still, you're supposed to give thanks. But for most of the last 5 years I've been more pissed off and unhappy about my life than thankful. Mostly because everytime something good happens, something shitty happens right after. So I'm going to write a smart ass list of things I'm thankful for. Really I'm not this negative in real life (see #3 below).

I'm thankful that:

1. I made a small wad of money on a weird stock option grant 4 years ago that has allowed me to blow it all on my overpriced graduate education now, I'd otherwise be in Vancouver working some shitty job for some shitty software company or not working at all.

2. I can lose weight almost as quickly as I can gain it. I'd otherwise be depressed about how hopeless it is to maintain a decent build made stocky from years of gymnastics. (find one slim ex-gymnast out there, yeah there are none)

3. I can express myself with words. I'd otherwise pent up all my negativity (rather than let it all go here on blogger so I can maintain an outwardly normal demeanor)

4. I don't live at home (ie with parents). I don't think this one really needs explanation. I'm 28 for Christ's sake.

5. I don't currently live in Vancouver where it can rain for 20 days straight (no I'm not joking) which really wears away at my emotional well being.

6. I have a car. I would die if I had to take public transit. I love our environment and do what I can to protect it (but I won't get on a bus with a bunch of stinky crazy people and cranky bus drivers)

7. I am healthy. Except for mild asthma, tendency to get nauseas and allergies to damn near anything that is edible.

8. I am not allergic to alcohol like several people I know. What the fuck would I do if I couldn't get wasted once in a while.

9. I'm not shy. I know people who are and it's a huge obstacle in their lives. Being able to carry on a conversation with strangers is really a life skill, and way more fun than hanging out in the shadows wishing you were invisible.

10. I don't have any handicaps or disfigurements. Near sightedness certainly doesn't count. I saw a guy on Discovery Channel and half his face was basically a huge red mole that kept growing throughout his life. It even changed the shape of his eye, nose and mouth and his bone structure. It would be really hard to live his life.


I was wondering how Bush managed to say all those big words and names without mispronouncing them or garbling the order of his words and changing the meaning of what he intended to say during debate #1. Well now I know. Check out this article on Bush's mystery bulge which appears originally on Salon.com (but requires subscription) so I found it on the Guardian. It's hilarious. I still cannot get over how many people can be duped to support this clown.


Canuck Thanksgiving and baby hams

Simon and his sister rescued a couple baby dwarf hamsters from a pet store today. They asked for baby dwarfs and the person at the store said they don't sell them anymore because they had some that were nasty and bit people. But they had some in the back that some people had dropped off at the store so they got 'em for the price of feeder mice (i.e. snake food), which is what they would've become if they hadn't been rescued.

Just got back from our Canadian Thanksgiving dinner over at Dereck's place. As usual we debated why Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving and why we do it earlier than the Americans. As usual everyone seemed more interested in sharing a precious moment in solitude with their Molson's or Labatt's, than in figuring out an answer so I've done some research:

From http://www.thanksgiving-traditions.com/html/canada.html:
The Canadian Thanksgiving makes an interesting counterpoint to the holiday celebrated by its southern neighbor. As mentioned earlier, the first North American thanksgiving event occurred in Newfoundland in 1578. In the 1600s, Samuel de Champlain and the French Settlers who came with him established an “Order of Good Cheer.“ This group would hold huge celebrations marking the harvests and other events, sharing their food with Native American neighbours.

From http://www.kidzworld.com/site/p2614.htm:
The origins of Canadian Thanksgiving are more closely connected to the traditions of Europe than of the United States. Long before Europeans settled in North America, festivals of thanks and celebrations of harvest took place in Europe in the month of October. The very first Thanksgiving celebration in North America took place in Canada when Martin Frobisher, an explorer from England, arrived in Newfoundland in 1578. He wanted to give thanks for his safe arrival to the New World. That means the first Thanksgiving in Canada was celebrated 43 years before the pilgrims landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts!


slow mo

Friday night and yup I'm at home. It's become a rather comfortable habit. The alternative is typically to be in a crowded bar in semi-comfortable shoes getting drinks spilled on me and losing my hearing as the loud bass chips away at my ear drums. Shit am I ever getting old. But really, I have an excuse for being home. It's midterm grading day tomorrow at my prof's lovely home in Bernal Heights. I have even made a pot of fried rice for the occasion. So much homework to do this weekend but I will have to take a break for Canadian Thanksgiving dinner Sunday night at D's place.

Honestly I think my clubbing days are over (with the exception of a hard core night when a good DJ comes to SF). I like the bar hopping and lounging but even that is getting tired. My ideal evening would be dinner and live theatre, comedy club or out for a film (and I'm not talkin' a Hollywood blockbuster). Even if, God forbid, I ended up living the single life again, I don't think I could do the meeting people at parties thing. I'm just too damn exhausted all the time.


keep your germs to yourself

I feel like shit. My head is in a fog, I'm exhausted and I have that tickle in my throat. And I know it's because sick people have been wandering around spreading their damn germs. You know I don't care about your work ethic and how you want to show the world you are tougher than your cold/flu by coming to work/school when you are sick. You end up touching doorknobs and coughing germs into the air and making people like me sick. People like me who have 10 pages of writing to turn in this week. Damn you! And those of you with children. I see them sneezing into the air or, even more pleasant, sneezing into their hands and wiping it on their pant leg. Keep them at home and away from me!


work area

In response to Lucky Kat and Wilco's recent posts, I am sharing with you the place where I spend countless hours reading, writing papers, blogging and shopping for bargains. I wish I had a work space as big and neatly organized as Lucky Kat's. Mine is rather tight and lacking adequate storage. I also wish I had a monitor setup like Wilco's. This monster of a monitor takes up all my desk space and it's noisy too. I should learn not to stick post its, RX refill stickers and pictures on it. Looks so sloppy. Note the kick ass rice cooker. I took that off a homemade necklace Denny was wearing after some costume night at DrinkClub.

my work area Posted by Hello

play the MoveOn Go Game

Will sent me this and it sounds like fun. It's a Go Game fundraiser for the MoveOn PAC. I didn't know what a Go Game was until I went to the Go Game site. It sounds like some combo of Amazing Race, Bay Area Backroads and The Apprentice all with a cell phone. From the Go Game site:
Teams of 4 to 8 individuals compete with one another to complete missions in the
most ingenious, daring, and creative fashion. These missions are downloaded to
each team's web-enabled cell phone. The mission may be a clue, a creative
challenge, directions to the next event, an engineering problem, a public
display of outrageousness…the list goes on! The answers to the challenges, or
the "Proofs" are created by each team in the form of digital photographs,
digital video, audio recordings and text input.

The MoveOn fundraiser will take place in the Mission district 10/16. I'm going to try to convince Simon to do this. If we can't contribute a vote, the least we can do his help raise funds for anti-Bush awareness.


queen of craigslist

In 2 hours, two of these chairs will be mine, all mine. I cannot begin to describe my talent in finding used treasures and selling my crap on Craigslist. I will soon bid farewell to this piece of shit kneeling chair that I despise so much. I already sold the last one for something like $40 (hey Simon paid a lot for them originally and they sell for $90 online now). Yes he had two piece of shit kneeling chairs. I'm sure they are great for your back and posture but only if you consciously sit up straight as a board. But when you're slaving away at papers for 6 hours or more, ya want something with some back support.

Next goal is to find a chair mat for $5 or less. Bless all of you fine folks at Craigslist! I can satisfy my need to shop with little to no money!

soon to be my chair!Posted by Hello


SF Love Parade

I've never seen so many people rolling in the middle of the day while dancing madly alongside really lame floats on the Embarcadero. It was a beautiful day and a great party. Glad I got out because it doesn't look like we'll make it out tonight. Here's my favourite pic from the event today.

Dog at the SF Love Parade Posted by Hello

And last night, while I planned to watch a old Wayne Wang film, I turned on the TV to PBS Independent Lens and there was a great documentary about an amazing woman I had never heard of. Maggie Kuhn was an activist who fought for peace during Vietnam, for the rights of women and ethnic minorities and every left leaning cause under the sun from the '50s until her death in 1995. In her old age she fought for the rights of older people and told them to take advantage of the freedom they have to speak out without persecution (for the most part). She explained that when you're old, you have nothing to lose and you can say whatever you want. What an amazing woman.



They come and go far too quickly. Staying in tonight while Simon works late on some RFP. Boy do I not miss working late on documents about software bla bla bla. Probably pop in a movie in a few minutes (Dim Sum by Wayne Wang, old indie film I read about and borrowed from the library) before I hit the sack. Going to judge a Toastmasters area competition for the first time tomorrow morning and then hopefully head to the SF Love Parade tomorrow afternoon with the Foster City crew here. A parade of partying, sunshine, electronic music and always the random naked people running around. What could better define this great city. I will miss it so much if/when I ever leave. There just isn't the population, arts/music community or government to encourage or support big events like that in Vancouver (the no fun city). There are street fairs, food fests, comedy fests, film fests, and art and wine festivals galore. Even people who claim they're "too old to go out" have so much to do during the daytime. Been thinking about whether I should/need to move away to do my PhD in 2006 and it pains me to even consider it. Life is too unpredictable to deal with sometimes.


nucular and stuff

Is it me or did Bush recite the same non-sensical answers to about 4 different questions? And what was up with the eye ball rolling, smirking and shuffling around while Kerry was speaking. This isn't a high school debate, get serious for Christ's sake. Lucky for Bush he correctly pronounced the names of the world leaders. Must've done a lot of flash card practice with his advisors (although the one with phonetic pronunciation of the word "nuclear" must've fallen out of the stack).

A few of my favourites from Kerry:

"I made a mistake in how I talk about the war, but the president made a mistake in invading Iraq. Which is worse?"

"I think we need a president who has the credibility to bring the allies back to the table and to do what's necessary to make it so America isn't doing this alone, the president's not getting the job done."

He said Bush's policies could be summed up in four words: "More of the same."

From Yahoo News:
Bush was forced to spend much of the debate defending his Iraq policies against Kerry's charges that Bush blundered in diverting attention from Afghanistan and the hunt for Osama bin Laden and shifting it to Iraq.

Some Bushisms for ya:


Bushism of the Year
"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." —George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004


complaining and stuff

First off, thanks to the lurkers for saying hello on my last blog entry's comments. It's always nice to be able to say hello to you guys directly. Trust me, it's not like I don't know people are reading my shit. If I wanted to blog to nobody, I wouldn't list myself on Rice Bowl Journals. Actually, if I wanted to keep my thoughts to myself I wouldn't blog at all. But I have too much stuff in my head not to dump it all on this here web site. It's cathartic for me, kinda like cleaning the apartment and yelling profanities when no one is home.

Anyways, that's not the topic of this entry. Today I was going to bitch about Comcast. My cable was out yesterday from about 7am to 1:30pm. I called to complain and they told me it was a known issue they were working on. Usually it takes 2-4 hours to take care of such known issues the kind lady said. Well it was out for longer than that and it really messed with my plans to get some reading done. Reading that I needed to retrieve from my library's web site now that pretty much everything in universities these days is online. Then I thought, what if I were an entrepreneur who worked from home and had a serious deadline to meet and Comcast was the only thing preventing me from getting my shit done? I asked to be reimbursed for a day's worth of cable, both TV and Internet (whopping $1.77, and they will do this as long as you ask) but the value of a potential project that might be due for a client could be worth thousands, and your reputation and credibility? Priceless. What then you bastards at Comcast?? When companies fuck you over, ALWAYS complain.