white lies

So I managed to drag my ass out of the house thanks go Jane who invited me out to Martini's for dinner with her girlfriends. After much food, chatter, and a sprinkling of toilet humour, Jane I headed out to Commercial Drive (our version of the Mission District, but smaller and tidier) to meet up with Bob and Candace and Joe for more food and drinks at Havana. Those 4 took off and I met up with Lonny and an old friend while they were settling their bill at Marcello's and then Lonny and I took off to meet up with his roomie and friends at Shine, the only happening party in town. I couldn't believe it when I drove downtown. Thursday night in a supposed party city during the holidays and all the clubs were closed or totally dead. Unbelievable. I thought Vancouver would've picked up a bit with the increase in population and healthy economy.

But luckily they found the party at Shine...

White Lies has apparently been going since '02 and I had a blast. It's '80s night much like PopScene at 330 Ritch in San Francisco, but with a little more North American 80s music and a little lighter on the UK pop (I didn't hear any Joy Division or Morrissey). Still I counted 3 Cure songs and a New Order oldie which made me happy. The girls there seemed a bit young but the crowd was pretty friendly and there is a small backroom for hip hop for those too young to appreciate the greatness that is 80s music. Can't wait to go back next week. Who's coming with me?!


in other news

Thought I'd redeem myself with a non-self-pitying post of a mish mash of stuff:

- I just found this on some random blog. http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/ It's a little hack that uses Google Maps to chart the distance of your running routes. It took me forever to figure out how to use it but it is awesome. First zoom in on your neighbourhood. Then you click the Start Recording button and then double click on your starting point on the map. Each time you double click you draw a straight line from the last point you marked. Continue double-clicking until you've traced out the route that you ran. Who needs a GPS pedometer when you can just trace your route online afterwards for free? You can switch from metric to English and enter your weight to get an estimated calorie burn (probably not very accurate but cool nonetheless)

- I heard on the radio about a week ago of a parking ticket Santa in Vancouver. This mystery person goes around slipping a $50 bill under the windshield wipers of people who have parking tickets. Is that crazy or what? How come there is no parking ticket Santa or fairy in San Francisco where we collect all our tickets?

- Some guy on the Chinese news set fire to some building somewhere (I can barely understand Chinese news hence the lack of details). The arsonist then got his arms and legs burned in the process and had to call 911 to the scene. Brilliant.

- When NHL hockey and junior hockey aren't on, there is always the Spengler cup. I had no idea there was so much damn hockey to watch. I cannot get enough.

- words of wisdom for the new year courtesy of Waiter Rant and all his readers http://waiterrant.net/?p=249


I've learned not to get all excited about NYE anymore. It kinda started in 1999 when I paid a bunch of money to go to a dinner dance in Richmond that was totally lame. And that night one of my friends stepped on my foot with her high heel. That hurt. Way to ring in the new millenium. I don't even remember 2000 or 2001. Not because it was good, more likely because it sucked. In 2002, we went to a big party at the Cow Palace where Paul Van Dyk was spinning but it turned out we were the oldest party goers there by almost a decade. The party ended by 2am and we had to trek out to 1015 to party the rest of the night which was a big huge hassle. In 2003, it snowed so suddenly and heavily that it wasn't safe for me to leave home. It's not so much that there was a lot of snow, but my neighbourhood is hilly and slippery until the snow plows come, which takes at least 24 hours. That year I rang in the new year in my parents' basement by myself and Dick Clark. Last year I went to a house party which is always a good thing. However, I think I was the only one who had too much to drink and the rest of the party of mostly non-drinkers whom I don't know very well spent the night watching me act stupid. I almost want to stay home this year just to avoid the hassle of making plans and figuring out how I'll get myself home because I totally don't like crashing at other people's homes (especially when it takes me an hour to get home the next morning). Well that wasn't a very cheery post. Not to worry, my mood improves as the weather gets better and the days grow longer. I should probably move someplace tropical.


ready to go back

So I'm glad Christmas is finally over. I haven't liked it since I was a kid. Even then it sucked because I never got the long list of gifts that the other kids at school got. Those little bastards had to brag about all the shit they got too, just to rub it in. I was hoping that on this trip I'd at least get a chance to hit the slopes but the rain that has been coming down every fuckin' day since I got here has washed away the snow on the local mountains and high winds closed the mountains all together yesterday. So feeling a little under the weather + constant shitty weather + living a few lightyears from everyone I know + no money = me staying at home doing nothing but watching hockey. I watched the junior hockey game at 4 pm and then the Canucks game from 7 - 9:30. So minus a half hour break, I watched 5 hours of hockey and spent 0 hours on my thesis or anything constructive. Canada beat Finland 5-1 in the jr game but Canucks lost (AGAIN) 2-1 to Calgary. Thank you Carter for your one goal but, damn Canucks, please deliver some better games for me to watch while I'm here.

Now I'm too bored and miserable to get any work done so yeah. New year's is this weekend but if you don't wanna spend money and don't feel like going out because there's nothing to celebrate, there isn't much to do eh? The only thing that I'm enjoying here other than the little time I spend with all my (blissfully-engaged/married-and-happy-not-that-I'm-bitter-or-anything) friends are the Telus commercials http://www.telusmobility.com/coolstuff/advertising.shtml Thank you Telus.

I think I'll wander the mall aimlessly by myself tomorrow. I need out of this house even if it means spreading all my sick germs to others.


Get together at Relish

On Friday night, we held our annual get together with friends (the ex pats living in SF) and their friends. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a small turnout this year because a lot of people got in late while others are leaving Vancouver early and there is a competing get together in between. Oh well. The highlight was having Tasha and Shel drop in for a visit. You might remember their photos from the Banff wedding. It was funny because Will recognized them from that wedding blog post ("you're the bride who was tackling groomsmen on the dancefloor!") and Tasha recognized Will from his blog ("hey, you're the guy who slaps cars and pretends they hit you!").

So after Relish shut down at midnight we headed to El Furniture Warehouse where there are free peanuts and peanut shells all over the floor. Some folks ended up at Tokyo Lounge and Tim's friends headed to some afterhours drinking place in Richmond. Despite the fact that I Skytrained down ghetto style with Tim so that no one would have to drive home, we got separated when he met up with his friends at the afterhours and I got taken to Joe's and Jane's. Lucky for me because Tim got into a minor altercation when some guy sucker punched him for calling his friend a bitch. Messed up thing was that the guy he called a bitch was not the one who started it, was no longer mad about it, was playing chi mui with Tim all buddy buddy when it happened and then stayed behind to make sure he was OK. So in other words the guy had no motive for messing up his face. The guy also punched a female friend of Tim's who got in the crossfire and she is PISSED. All we know is the guy's name is Michael, he's half Chinese, and he's going to have his face rearranged some time this week. Happy holidays Michael you piece of shit, you're so dead.

potluck karaoke pics

So we didn't get to watch the Canucks game that night but they lost anyways. Here are some of the photos from that night. Merry Christmas and all that.

enjoying my early Xmas gift - the Debbie Gibson themed karaoke mic - at Joe's and Jane's

this is what happens when a Lindt chocolate ball unknowingly rolls into your crotch and you sit on it for an hour. nice job Alex :)

Alex singing Material Girl with Joe his back up dancer



So I'm back in Vancouver. Last night was fun. My closest friends got together for a little potluck. It was more pot than luck since the host neglected to tell us he didn't have TSN so we couldn't watch the hockey game. Oh well, the Canucks lost anyways damn them. Instead we watched Napolean Dynamite, chowed down on pizza and nachos and then I busted out my Xmas gift from Simon. My karaoke mic with 200 songs built in and 100 additonal songs on a chip inserted in the mic. Man was that ever a hit. It's a lot like the ones you get at the Asian stores but minus the Chinese or Tagalog songs. We sang until 1:30am. The drive home sucked because it was raining like hell. Not the sheets of rain we sometimes get in SF, more like big huge drops that came down hard. The fact that certain areas like the part between the East West Connector and the Queenborough bridge got totally rerouted pisses me off. I got lost last night. I ended up in the parking lot of a new outlet mall that wasn't there before and had to find my way back to the bridge. I could've stayed over at my friend's place but I just prefer the comforts of home even if it is out in the sticks.

I'm really hating the fact that my parents live out in the burbs and all my friends live in Vancouver or Richmond. It's been the story of my life. Me driving out 45 min to an hour by myself to meet up with people and then driving my ass home by myself. To make things worse, my dad is now retired and has discovered eBay which means I can't even escape by getting online. So I just wander the house aimlessly thinking about the thesis I'm supposed to be writing and blocking out the nagging and annoying questions about why I go out so late. It's like being a teenager all over again.


Christmas shopping on Amazon

I thought I was really clever doing my Christmas shopping on Amazon. I've always believed you can never have too many books. So I put in my orders December 6th thinking they'd all be here in plenty of time. So I bought enough books to qualify for Super Saver (free) shipping and that method of shipping supposedly takes 5-9 days. December 19th, the books aren't here, I'm leaving for Vancouver soon. WTF. So I wrote a nastygram to Amazon customer service because my account says the books wont be shipped until mid January. That's not 5-9 days, that is more than a month. The books I ordered from other merchants on Amazon Marketplace arrived a week ago already.

So apparently, what they don't tell you is what the service rep told me by email. Here it is:
To qualify for free Super Saver Shipping you must choose the option
to "Group my items into as few shipments as possible" when placing
the order.
We have several fulfillment centers across the United States, meaning
the items in your order may be stocked at different locations.
Whenever you place an order, we display an estimated shipping date
based on inventory's proximity to your delivery address, as well as
how quickly we can obtain and assemble your shipment. This estimate
takes into account the fact that available items may be held for
shipment until we have assembled the rest of your order.
But she said that just this once she'd change my shipping so that the items ship separately as they arrive from their suppliers so that makes the estimated delivery December 21, 2005 - January 6, 2006. Gee thanks. Bastards. They really could've done a better job explaining that instead of just showing Super Saver Shipping Usually Takes 5-9 Days. I'm pissed off now.

In contrast we did some last minute shopping at Target. The place was so busy they were madly trying to bring the abandoned shopping carts from the far end of the parking lot back into the store. But the check out was sooooo ridiculously quick. They even had more cashiers on hand than they needed and several of the checkouts were empty. The cashiers ran around getting people who were standing in short lines to come to their checkout. Total check out time, 2 minutes max. Bravo Target!


hot pot city

Ever eat so much over a few weeks that you actually get sick of eating? Went to Hot Pot City tonight in Milpitas. Way too much damn meat. I don't actually understand how people get obese. I can pack away a big meal but after I do that a few days in a row, I seriously feel like fasting. I can even be hungry but my body tells me not to eat. I think that is my natural mechanism to prevent me from gaining more than say 15 lbs, which is the most I've gained over a short period (and with that I had to buy new clothes). Yeah not cool.



People go missing once in a while, more often than you think. However, if you're not a young cute/hot white girl (Laci Peterson, Nathalee Holloway), it's not likely you'll get any media attention. If you are a girl next door or sexy co-ed type, you get all the headlines until something, (like an entire US city getting wiped out by a hurricane) pushes you out of the headlines. Even war in Iraq took a second place spot to the Holloway case. So I'll do my part here to give this case a little attention. Tang has been missing 2 weeks now and is the CTO of a tech company near my home in San Mateo.

If you see Jerry, please call his name. He may not respond if he is post-ictal from a seizure (confused, disoriented, stares into space). He may have had a stroke and is weak. He has a visual field deficit (blindness) on the left side, so don't approach him from that side.

Call 911, (you will be asked, "Police, Fire, or Medical") say "Medical", identify yourself and state your location. Then describe Jerry to them. He may have had a seizure, stroke, and may be hypothermic.

Then call Ingrid (family friend) 415-793-6248.

Jerry Tang (loving father of two) is Asian American, 6’-1”, 160 lbs, 39 years old, with black hair and brown eyes. He has been missing since 11/29. He is prone to seizures, and is without his medication.

If you see him, please call the SFPD Missing Persons immediately: (415) 558-5580. Police Case # 051347730



Christmas cards

Does anyone actually send out Christmas cards anymore? I remember we used to string them up in front of our fireplace and every year we got fewer of them. My parents' friends would send them as a minimal keep in touch gesture. I used to send them to friends, acquaintances, and former coworkers just so that I could do the whole keep in touch thing at least once a year. It had little to do with Christmas, a holiday I'm not really into, but more to do with using a certain time of year as a marker. Kinda like changing the batteries in your smoke alarms every daylight savings. But you know what? Few people ever sent me a goddamn card back. So screw that idea. No more cards from me. Maybe I'll just send an e-card to my whole address book. Hmm wait, there are still some weirdos in my address book that I don't care to write to but whom I might need in the future (business contacts and such). A bulletin on Friendster will have to do. It's sad, the Christmas card thing that worked in my parents' generation was kinda fun because they often came with photos of people I hadn't seen in years who lived in different countries around the world. But then again the Internet does more than make up for lost connections, so hooray for Friendster, MySpace, and LinkedIn.


a tale of 3 parties

It's holiday party time but this weekend the parties got started with some birthdays. Jane and her girlfriends came down from Vancouver to celebrate their 30th bdays. The party started at Mochica for tasty eats. From there we went to Loft 11 and then half of us left to meet up with some other friends who weren't about to pay $10 to go to a packed hip hop party. So Jane and my friends spent the rest of the night at Holy Cow which was pretty (surprisingly) fun.

Jenn, Jenn, Christine, Jane, me, Clara

The tacky looking but delicious cake (and oops, I didn't realize it was only Jane, Clara, and Christine's birthdays, not the Jenns)

Me and Willy being stupid

Jane and I in front of Crepes-a-Go-Go

So that was Friday night. Yesterday I served as Denny's volunteer escort to a couple of holiday parties he had to go to that he didn't want to brave alone. Now that was interesting. The first was the party of a classmate of his, whom I found out I knew as well. OK so I don't know her but I thought of her as pay check lady because she works in the dean's office and I see her for my checks. She is also an interior designer in the making and her place in Nob Hill was gorgeous. Everything looked like what you see in magazines and design shows. And the guests were also all decked out with their perfect coifs, designer clothes, polite conversation, the whole nine yards. Everything on the table matched. EVERYTHING. Even the dog was wearing a nice sweater. I realized that I don't find myself at parties like this very often with everything and everyone looking so perfect... and I get urges to do or say something stupid just to entertain myself. But no need. I made an awesome faux pas completely by accident but I don't think anyone saw. As I was refilling Denny's punch, I tipped his cup and all his backwash at the bottom of his cup got dumped into the beautiful silver punch bowl. Oops. So to be polite I scooped up all the punch so that no one would be drinking his backwash. But I couldn't scoop it all and before I knew it, someone came to refill the bowl. Oh well. Hehe, that was funny.

So after we got out of there we headed to party #2 which was his coworker's friend's party. What a contrast. We walked in and it smelled of liquor (instead of scented candles). Two nice fellows who knew Denny came to greet us and I noticed both of them were wet. Like their shirts were soaked. Apparently they were playing a game where you hold your arm up straight and pour champagne on yourself and try to get as much into your mouth as possible. Most of it ends up on the floor or on your shirt. The photos on the fridge were of drunk people some with no shirts on and there was no silver punch bowl here. No siree bob. Instead, a recycling bin lined with a garbage bag held the punch which you scoop up with your own cup (obviously no concerns about backwash here) and most people just drank liquor straight out of the bottle. Despite some high school flashbacks (it was a bit fratboyish and I think I only counted 3 nonwhite people), I somehow felt like we fit in better there than at that last party.

Party #4 is my Toastmasters potluck. Gotta go make my deviled eggs now.



I am a machine. Somehow in the last week I have completed all but one Phd application, made some jewelry for the people who wrote me letters of rec, finished Xmas shopping (I love Amazon), organized a big birthday bash, and almost finished grading midterms. Yay me. Unfortunately all this comes at the expense of getting regular exercise. I am living proof that working out once a week is NOT enough. Especially if you go drinking on the weekends and eat like it's still Thanksgiving. I am getting mega chunky. Drinking beer and eating more fried food at Old Pro in Palo Alto last night is no help. Oh well. I'm super excited Old Pro is expanding. This place has these big beer tap things that you can take to your table to serve yourself. They also have ping pong, pool table, some old school arcade games, pinball, foosball and, my favourite, air hockey! Next summer they'll be expanding into the space next door and, get this, Bucky the Mechanical Bull! Yee haw, I cannot wait to try that out. I've only seen them on TV! I don't know what they do about liability issues with one of these in the place.


a funny thing that happened

I've been dying to write about this but waiting for Will to do it since it happened to him. So he does this thing that one of my profs also claims to do when cars cut her off when she is jogging. Will likes to slap cars going by and pretend they hit him. (My prof said she likes to also scream "you hit me motherfucker" but that's another story). Will got in trouble for this little trick on Friday night after we all went out on a bender.


Congrats Will for being black out free for a whole month and not getting fired for getting plastered and silly at your company party!



I have 40 minutes before I have to tutor kid #1 of the evening and what do I do? I sign into blogger. What the hell. First off, thanks to everyone who left encouraging comments to my last post. Much better response than I got when I sent messages on Asian Avenue to recruit interviewees. Much unanticipated hostility there from people who felt they were getting a "real" MA degree because it involved math and engineering. Second, the person with the handle "your ex-gf" who left me a comment, your thesis sounds interesting too how do I contact you?

So on the weekend, I had a rough night that required the rest of the weekend to recover from. Drinks followed by more drinks followed by late night eats at New Sun Hong Kong where a cockroach the size of a goddamn cat skittered about makes for a queesy stomach. As does helping a new mom to pour HER breast milk into a feeding bottle the next day. It kinda dripped down the side of the bottle and smelled more cheesey than cow milk and I am still gagging a bit just thinking about it.

Saturday night was a chill evening at Gi's where we had leftover turkey cooked into a pot pie. Oh and I watched my first Star Wars movie in its entirety (episode 1). I watched Empire Strikes Back when it came out but I was 5 and hopelessly hyperactive and didn't actually sit still to watch it. I think I was probably too busy running around chasing my younger cousin and pulling off his socks. Did I tell you that until a few months ago I thought a light sabre was pronounced life saver? Anyways, I borrowed the set of DVDs. I have a lot of Star Wars to catch up on.


what the hell is she writing about?

So, a lot of people have been asking me what my thesis is about and, despite all my Toastmasters training, I have a really hard time articulating it without sounding stupid. E.g."Like, um, import models and web sites and shit." I just don't have my elevator pitch down yet. So I figured I would paste the abstract that got me into the conference at UofI Urbana-Champaign. It's at least somewhat articulate, though more than I can manage to explain verbally. I still need to work on that. But, anyways, here's the answer to "what the hell are you writing about in your thesis?" I tend to get mixed reactions - excitement and interest from the ethnic studies/cultural studies type folks, disgust and scorn from people who think an education in anything other than science and engineering is a waste of time - I guess that's to be expected.

Import car culture is a predominantly Asian American youth culture that
typically involves young Asian American men displaying elaborately modified
Japanese cars at conventions while their female counterparts pose suggestively
with the cars for pictures hoping to be discovered and hired as event
spokesmodels. Namkung (2000) explains that young Asian American men use import cars to reclaim and assert their masculinity, but concludes that the women who participate in the import scene as “import models” are simply exploited. Since
aspiring import models frequently extend their performances at car shows to the
Internet by authoring personal web sites, it becomes quite evident that there is
more going on than mere exploitation. This paper reveals the results of in-depth
interviews conducted with a selection of these young women and demonstrates the
variety of ways in which their web sites reflect their efforts at negotiating
their cultural identities, asserting a sense of personal empowerment, and
challenging dominant stereotypes of Asian women as bookish, conservative, timid,
and cold. While there are the numerous theories that explain how media are
oppressive and marginalizing forces for ethnic minority audiences, this paper
attempts to demonstrate how young Asian American women have instead become
active empowered users and producers of new media by carving out a very public
space and establishing a voice on the Internet.

Friday's Feast

When was the last time you did something you would consider courteous, what was it, and who was it for?

Well....the class I TA is instructed by a person who constantly has "technical issues." This week he couldn't provide an electronic copy of the take home exam which is already being assigned 2 weeks late. Many students couldn't make it to pick up a hard copy and were freaking out so I re-typed the whole damn thing and emailed it to the class. It was a favour for the students. I found out later the TA for the other section has also done his share of re-typing hard copies. In our section the undergrad assistant has been scanning hard copies of these things to post on our class web site. Yeah, ridiculous huh?

If you were to have a painting done of you alone, what would you want the background to be?

A beach at sunset. Shit that's so cliche but I like beaches at sunset.

Describe your voice.

I hate my voice. I sound like I'm 12.

Main Course
What is something you would like to do, but you're afraid of the risk(s)?

Scuba diving and sky diving.

What was the last television show you watched?

Food Network, Top Five Foods Named After Places. They were making chicken kiev and I had to see how they do it.


scary story and other stuff

So the good news first and then the scary stuff. I got accepted to present at my very first academic conference. I'll be going to the Asian Pacific American Graduate Students Organization conference at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign in March 2006. I've never been to Illinois and I actually applied to that school's Communication Research program so I'm excited. Yay!

So I was IMing with my dad last night about hockey and somehow we got to gossiping about family because that is all we talk about being an uptight non-communicative Chinese family and all. I found out that my cousins, aunt, and uncle on my mom's side who lived in Willowdale, Ontario lived many years in a house that was haunted. They moved out just within the last few years or something. Like each of them had seen the same damn ghost on several occasions and got used to it. How the hell do you get used to that shit and continue living there? It seems like everyone in my family has seen crap like this. It's kind of disturbing. OK I don't want to talk about it anymore because I get scared typing about it. But it's just so fascinating. I admit sometimes I feel guilty about trashing religion because I believe in ghosts but haven't got the God(s) stuff figured out. I left the Catholic Church behind after our priest threatened we'd go to hell for missing mass (dammit I had gymnastics meets on Sundays sometimes, jeez), told us that gay people have a disorder, told us that girls can't serve as altar girls and then explained that only men could be priests (and could thus be closer to God than could women). Even at age 12 I figured that this was rather sexist, homophobic and generally extreme (duh). While religion provides guidelines for being nice to other folks and all that, it also spawns hate, causes wars, prevents people from thinking independently, and divides families (and countries). I've always figured you can make your own rules for being good to yourself and people around you without having to worship someone/something and follow a bunch of arbitrary rules and archaic customs. I believe in a higher power but what form s/he takes I don't know. All I know is my future kids will not be forced to go to weekly mass and catechism. A little independent learning about Buddhist philosophies maybe. But that's it man.


EhClub Thanksgiving

Every year our crew of Canadians usually gets together for Canadian Thanksgiving. This year most folks were out of town in October (when our Thanksgiving takes place) so we got together for a U.S. Thanksgiving potluck instead. Luckily most of my friends here are darn good cooks so no KFC here. We had salad, bacon cheese mashed potatoes, butternut squash, yams, cucumber yogurt salad, stuffing, sausages, deep fried sushi, and, of course, turkey. This year I was thankful for good friends with great culinary skills.

Denny's very unique (read: weird) heart-shaped sausages with syrup

Ben's awesome signature deep fried sushi atop a cylinder-shaped block of rice and corn

Gi (gracious host) and Simon working on the turkey

eating while watching the Canucks beat the Sharks 3-2

some karaoke

and getting ready for the Black Friday (U.S. version of Boxing Day) sales (does this look ghetto or what? we're not even talking to each other but that's probably because someone, maybe me, is singing really loud and off key)

a little dessert including Denny's belated birthday cake (cheesecake by Gigi) on the left and it's off to CompUSA for some midnight shopping


the serotonin re-uptake hoax

Found an interesting article on nomorefakenews.com referencing several other articles that explain that there is no evidence for the whole serotonin re-uptake theory of depression. I swear I learned this theory in my "Feeling & Emotion" psych class in university but there's nothing to say that a book is right just because it weighs several pounds. Scientific half-truths have been reproduced as fact for as long as people have been around.

Here's a quote from one of the articles:
How did so many smart people get it so wrong? Medicinal chemist Derek Lowe,
who works in drug development for a pharmaceutical firm, offered an explanation
in his "In the Pipeline" blog. "I worked on central nervous system drugs for
eight years, and I can confidently state that we know just slightly more than
jack" about how antidepressants work.

I don't doubt the fact that depression is real. Not for a second. But it is interesting to read how they came up with such a theory (you can't actually go into a human brain while the person is alive and take a count of serotonin levels). I also don't doubt that the drugs work for some people, but I do believe that drug companies turn vague theories into stories complete cartoon characters when the scientists themselves aren't sure how the drugs work. Storytelling helps to simplify things which in turn helps to sell more drugs.


sunny days and Thanksgiving

I can't remember how many consecutive days of gorgeous sunshine and t-shirt weather we've had now. God, I love the weather here. Can't be beat. I'm going to wear my flip flops to school today. I just have to do some research and work at my little writing lab for 2.5 hours and I'm out. See, it's Thanksgiving week here in America. It's not just a day because people tend to cancel out of a whole week of work. I have no classes to attend or TA, so I get to leave early and get some grocery shopping done for our little EhClub (my Canadian friends living in the Bay Area) Thanksgiving potluck tomorrow. I'm making mediterranean cucumber yogurt salad (diced cucumber, mediterranean yogurt from Trader Joe, mint, cilantro, garlic, squeeze of lemon juice). I think Simon will be making candied squash (slice it up, throw tonnes of brown sugar, nutmeg, and butter on it, bake until soft). I better hit the gym sometime today too.


preparing for Vancouver

Since it's been t-shirt (no jacket) weather here for weeks probably thanks in no small part to global warming, I decided to check out the forecast in Vancouver just for fun. Right, so where is it that you can order those UV lamps for people with SAD (seasonal affective disorder)?

6-10 Day Forecast for

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday
Check Flight Delays

Check Flight Delays

Check Flight Delays

Check Flight Delays

High 43°F
Low 37°F

Precip. 50 %

High 43°F
Low 37°F

Precip. 50 %

High 44°F
Low 35°F

Precip. 60 %

High 42°F
Low 33°F

Precip. 60 %

Last Updated Nov 21 10:23 p.m. Local Time

what 80s band are you?

Man, I swear I did not try for this result. Yes this is one of my all time favourite bands, along with Pet Shop Boys, Grapes of Wrath, and New Order, but I was hoping for a better result than this. Great, guess it's time to take advantage of that free therapy a la grad students in our counseling department.

You're so depressed... but why? Some people might
call you whiny and annoying, and you are, to
them. You still have people that are willing
to listen to you... right after they've been

What band from the 80s are you?
brought to you by Quizilla


idiot friends

It is with great hesitation that I post this. This is a new blog of a friend of mine.


He will remain anonymous for obvious reasons. I'm pretty sure I'll get a mention on this blog, titled "my friends are idiots," in the near future.

weekend and stuff

Friday night was a good time. We went over to James's and KT's house for her 30th birthday. It was nice to just hang out with a few folks, good food, and a couple bottles of Crown Royal. We had Vietnamese spring rolls and sour fish soup (KT), clams, and seabass (Simon). Yummy yum. After dinner we ended up doing a few rounds of drunk table topics (1-2 minutes of impromptu speaking on a topic NOT of your choosing) since 3 of the 7 people there were in Toastmasters (weird coincidence). We need to do small potlucks more often.

Saturday was my drive down to Monterey for the final round of the Toastmasters Humorous Speech contest. It was my first time speaking with a microphone, on a stage, in front of over 200 people but I guess since this was my 4th competition delivering the same speech, it didn't seem all that scary. There were 8 awesome speeches. I didn't place in the top 3 but I *think* I was somewhere in the middle. I still need to check if I get to find out that kind of information. I have to say I'm pretty happy to have even made it to the final round of competition, a first for our club. The weather was beautiful in Monterey, which is rare. I wish I could've stayed at the hotel there. The Best Western Sand Dunes is right on the beach and you can get ocean front rooms that are pretty awesome. It looked a lot better than you'd think from reading some of the user reviews on tripadvisor. I'll probably stay there next if I have to go to Monterey.

Sunday was rest, work out, and house cleaning day. Boy did we need to do all three of those things. Hooray for a short week.



I don't understand why rich people have to steal. http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20051118/wl_canada_nm/canada_media_black_col

Is it not enough that you're a multi-millionaire? Did you really have to skim profits for no reason other than pure greed? That $60K that Conrad Black stole to throw his wife a goddamn birthday party could've paid for university for 3 students in Canada, perhaps the children of people cleaning the urinals at his company. I hope he and his buddies get thrown in jail. Of course, even then, the kind of jail he and folks like Martha Steweart get to go to is probably fancier than our apartment.

I, like others I've talked to, truly believe that it takes a little bit of struggle, a little bit of suffering of some sort to really build character in a person. Some people make it big and they lose that bit of wisdom, maturity, and sense of appreciation for everything they have. People who are spoiled all their lives never had it to begin with.


food, grants, Tivo

I made the tastiest dish last night. Chinese eggplant, oyster mushrooms, green onions, thinly sliced beef stirfried. The sauce: garlic, oyster sauce, soy sauce, bit of honey, chinese cooking wine, bit of kalbee sauce, water, cornstarch. Sorry I don't have exact measurements, just a bit of this and that until it looks about right. It should be mostly oyster sauce though. I don't know how people can live on restaurant food alone. After a few days without home cooking and I don't feel well.

So I have been looking for grants and scholarships from Canadian sources for next Fall but I'm having a hard time finding anything. The categories tend to be so narrow - women in engineering, children of employees from X company, disabled, etc. Anyone out there with some suggestions? I don't think I even qualify for the regular BC grant for grad students studying outside of Canada. I need to get on this ASAP.

So my supportive bf (including in a financial way) got a special gift from me this year. Yup a Tivo and lifetime membership. I haven't much to contribute financially so I thought a big gift was in order. And no this does not serve as a dual gift for me. There's nothing on TV that I desperately need to watch, whereas he goes to great lengths to catch every West Wing. Unfortunately, I'll probably have to also watch a lot of Star Trek and anything with tanks, guns, and soldiers. We got it activated last night and I'm impressed by how easy it is to program. So, Will, Denny, Gigi, we've finally joined your cult.


traffic reports live

Look what I found on someone elses (Prayers for Now's) blog -- http://maps.yahoo.com/beta/index.php

Click on live traffic and it shows a legend with the average speed for that area and icons indicating major incidents on the highway to avoid. That is cool if it actually works.

my lucky day

Today I witnessed a most impressive act of God. As I was walking to Brent's popular culture class where I sit in a corner and listen quietly (I'm not actually enrolled because I'm too poor to take extra classes I don't need), a huge and I'm talkin' HUGE flock of seagulls flew over head. I saw them coming and ducked under a tree a little bit. Just as I ducked, the head gull must've issued the "bombs away" order and it literally rained bird shit right next to me. First of all, I've never seen so many gulls fly in a flock together. Usually they're just standing around alone on a dock. Secondly, I have never seen mass simulataneous shitting before. Not like that. The gulls densely splattered an area about 15' in diameter and the first thing everyone in the vicinity said was "holy shit." Quite an appropriate statement. I'd like to say that I narrowly escaped it but sadly I did not. I got some on my left pant leg. Isn't there some culture out there that believes that being shit on by a bird is lucky? I think it's time to buy a lotto ticket.

Completely unrelated to birds and/or shit, I'd like to point you to yet another new blog. http://watertreading.blogspot.com JP is a fellow I met on the old Media Action Network for Asian Americans newsgroup (which is totally useless now that it is moderated and all the latest news and info is delayed by days if not weeks). Like me, he's into issues of ethnicity and media and politics...but he's a whole lot more articulate.

more on blue cross

OK this is mostly for Syndromes but also for anyone else on Blue Cross. If you read the fine print, they will do your blood work for $75 (instead of billing you $229 %#@&) if you go to one of the Blue Cross "Wellness Centres." They have contracts with these centers so it costs less to get this and other stuff like routine physicals (also not covered) at these places. The number to find a center is supposed to be on the back of your membership card. Of course they don't tell you any of this shit unless you call in to inquire. The web site is garbage and just meant to give enough information to sell you a plan. No info on the details of your benefits. But still, Blue Cross was the cheapest PPO plan I could find (less than $70/mo., $5K deductible). HealthNet was HMO, which I hated, and costed more and I already talked about Kaiser below. You'd probably walk into Kaiser for a booster shot and end up accidentally getting chemo or something. And if you just lost your job, get off the COBRA plan asap. It's just a continuation of the benefits that your company provided you except it now gets billed to you instead of the company that just kicked your ass out on the street. So quite likely your COBRA will cost a few hundred bucks a month and is way more than you need if you're generally healthy and single.


don't go to the doctors

I hate Blue Cross. I went to the doctors for an annual check up and the doctor wanted me to take a blood test to check my cholesterol and stuff. I figured this was basic stuff so I didn't think to call Blue Cross first to see if it was covered. Typically my doctors visits are covered 70% or something. This week the bill came. My blood test costed $229 and NONE of it was fucking covered! I'm so pissed. I call the doctor and then Blue Cross and it turns out that routine testing or preventive care of any kind is not covered. So the logic is they pay only for services that you need. So let's say I want to check my blood cholesterol. Not covered. Let's say as a result of NOT getting my cholesterol checked, I don't realize I have high cholesterol until I have a massive heart attack. Well lucky for me, getting checked into the hospital to treat the massive heart attack would be covered. In other words, they ain't gonna pay for anything until you're actually sick. Treating someone already sick I would think costs more than preventive treatment... I mean bypass surgery versus a blood test, come on already! So I don't understand. I hate you Blue Cross. But the only other option really is Kaiser which costs more, and they've managed to accidentally kill 4 of their patients in San Jose/Santa Clara in the last 13 months by giving out the wrong medicine or wrong dose. That is just spectacular.

So add that $229 to my $1400 in auto repairs this month and the $800 or so of grad school application fees. I dont make that much money in 3 months. I'm so broke it hurts.


grammar epidemic

I'm watching an NBC news story about businesses sending their employees to remedial business writing classes to correct horrible and embarrassing written English. One of the instructors they interviewed in the story blames electronic communication, such as the use of Blackberries and informal email correspondence. As a writing tutor, I disagree. Students who speak no language other than English are arriving at my writing lab with pages and pages of words that make absolutely no sense. There are sentences with no verb or with no subject. This happens a lot but still it ceases to amaze me. It's pretty obvious that students are getting through high school without the writing skills they need to get through college or hold a job that involves written communication. If Americans want to be competitive in this so called global market, they'll have to get back to basics and at least ensure their youngsters can write in their native language by the time they finish high school. Many of the ESL students I work with have better grammar and sentence construction than the American students and, for lack of better words, it totally floors me.

racists in Philly

Recently Asian American businesses in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania received threats of rape and bombings. The white supremacist Aryan Nations claimed responsibility. http://www.nbc10.com/news/5164409/detail.html

From an email I got...
Please show your solidarity and support by signing the following online
petition requesting that Mayor Street of Philadelphia, Governor Rendell of
Pennsylvania, and Executive Director Kao of the Pennsylvania Governor's
Commission on Asian American Affairs act swiftly in regards to investigating
these matters.http://www.petitiononline.com/phillyhc/


Edison NJ, no thanks

Remind me to never go to Edison, NJ. The elections for mayor of Edison, NJ included two Democratic candidates, one of them Korean American. A while back there was a morning radio show talking about how chinks should go home because they will just vote for the Asian guy. Now that same hostility is coming from the poll workers. Yes POLL WORKERS!!
From http://www.thnt.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051102/NEWS/511020421/

The Justice Department outlined its observations in a letter sent to the
Middlesex County Board of Elections. Some of findings were:

Poll workers telling federal observers that voters should learn English in order to vote
A poll worker stating when a Gujarati or Hindi-speaking voter appeared she would "send them to the nearest gas station."
A poll worker walking across a gymnasium to tell a Gujarati-speaking challenger he could not assist Indian voters.
A poll worker telling federal observers if a voter speaks a language other than
English, she sends them to town hall unless they have brought someone with them
to translate.

I'm also really unimpressed with the the opponent's campaign worker's comments about "their countrymen...telling them who to vote for." You really call yourself a Democrat? Non-English speaking people don't speak English, it doesn't mean they're stupid and don't get information about each candidate in brochures written in their own language. I bet he also talks really loud to blind people. Just another reminder that we're not all treated as equals in this country for those who mistakenly thought that we were.



The last few months, or maybe longer, I've been making sure to get at least 8 hours of sleep. If that means getting up at 10:30am then so be it because I don't have a regular job with a regular pay cheque so I at least deserve that luxury. Often I even get 9 hours because climbing out of bed is too enormous of a task to deal with first thing in the morning. But even those days when I've had a very full nights sleep, once 3 or 4 o'clock rolls around I can barely keep my eyes open. I even told my doctor about this and she said a power nap is perfectly normal. But my "nap" is required only 5 hours after I get out of bed the first time, often lasts an hour, and it's not just a nap. It's mouth hanging open, drooling, and snoring that ultimately wakes me up. (Yeah I wake myself up when I snore, it's weird). If left alone I could easily sleep 12 hours. Am I the only one who needs to sleep this much?? I have to say it's totally getting in the way of other things... well everything.

hamster pics

Some recent photos of my furry friends. No they're not gerbils, they're Russian dwarf hamsters aka Campbells. They are teeny tiny (that is a toilet paper roll that Snowy is snoozing in in the second photo). Anyone have a male dwarf I can borrow? I wanna get Snowy knocked up so we can make a new generation. Last time we tried to start a hamster family, my male hamster (Poopee) almost got mauled to death by my female ham, Lucky, who still lives at Simon's office. Poopee was never the same after that.

Snowy and Fatty