fridays feast

I have nothing interesting to say except that the Quickly bubble tea place opened up in Foster City and has a 59 cent bubble tea special. Unfortunately, they can barely figure out how to make all the drinks so you have to wait about 15 minutes for it. They really should rename the place Slowly.

So anyways, I think I'll do this week's Friday's Feast

When was the last time you visited a hospital?

Age 15 when I dislocated my elbow in PE.

On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being highest, how ambitious are you?

9 during weekdays, 7 on weekends, 2 after a few beers

Make a sentence using the letters of a body part. (Example: (mouth) My other ukelele tings healthily.)

Toe - Try ordering everything

Main Course
If you were to start a club, what would the subject matter be, and what would you name it?

The Association for Short Asian Women Who Look Younger than their Age and get Treated Like Shit by Everyone as a Result (or TAFSAWWLYTTAAGTLSBEAAR for short)

What color is the carpet/flooring in your home?

Desert sand with carefully hidden stains from the previous tenant's stupid cat and her curry dishes spilled in the dining area.


union campaigner from hell

No my finger has not healed, yes it hurts to type, but I'm pissed and need to vent. I was sitting in the grad lounge today during my writing lab hours when a woman invited herself in. She handed me a card to join the Cal State University UAW (United Autoworkers) union. You see there's been a movement underfoot to unionize for higher wages and benefits. Fair enough and I support that cause but it doesn't mean I'm going to jump right in and blindly join a union like so many people do. I explained to the woman that I wasn't quite ready to sign up. She pushed me for a reason why and I explained that I have some bad experiences with unions. Take for example the fact that the labourers at a concrete company my dad worked at decided to demand wages that the company simply could not afford. Although my dad was only a purchasing manager, he was forced to spend week upon week in court for union negotiations that wore him out and costed the company thousands of dollars.Ultimately the dispute caused the company to go under. That put my dad out of a job and my family out of an income. Oh and the labourers were out of work too. Lose lose situation.

But that woman would not take no for an answer. Every time I said something she either insulted me ("Oh, so you can't sign up because of YOUR DAD???!") or twisted my words around. When I said I wasn't yet clear on all the issues and fine print and just wasn't ready to dive into this union yet, she translated that into "So you're saying you don't care about your fellow students and you can't spend even $1.72 a month to support the rights of workers who are treated unfairly?!"

Uh no, that's not what I said. This went back and forth for about 15 minutes as she went from "asking" for support to pitching an all out fit. I decided to halt her onslaught of verbal harrassment and intimidation by calmly saying, "Look, I hear what you're saying and it's all fine and good but..." and I was about to say for the millionth time, "I'm just not ready to sign up right here and now". But she cut me off at "but" and yelled like a 3-year-old throwing a tantrum, "NO IT'S NOT ALL FINE AND GOOD." Finally, she picked up her bag and left.

I was on the fence because the issue with my dad's experience with a union which left my family without an income. I was also hesitant because unions in America tend to be staunchly anti-H1B visa for foreign workers (something I support for obvious reasons) and anti-outsourcing (what I believe to be an economic reality as per my post below). There is also no room for dissent in a union, you either do as they say or get pelted with rocks and eggs literally. Still, I honestly was on the fence because I do feel that our wages and benefits are too minimal for the work we do but if joining our CSU union means being on the same team as that crazy bitch, I'll have to respectfully decline. I refuse to be harrassed and intimidated into doing anything.

If I had to choose between getting screamed at by a union campaigner or getting conned into going to bible study by someone who kisses my ass by saying they like the shoes I'm wearing, I think I'd choose the latter now that I've experienced both unfortunate situations. What's that saying about attracting bees with honey or vinegar?


new Governor General

Bit of Canadian news for you all -- Canada gets a new Governor General. An ethnic minority woman in a high ranking position. Don't see much of that down here eh? Nope just white dudes who are barely qualified for their jobs and make a mess of the country. I'm thinking of more than one guy here. Just take a guess.

Blogging will be light for the next while. Took a big chunk of flesh out of my finger when my chef knife slipped whilst cutting a green pepper. Is it messed up that I found the hunk of flesh and put it in a ziploc baggy? I think this gash could use stitches but I think that would only cause more pain (and financial burden... stupid medical insurance). So Band-Aid it is.


Van Dyk and rooftop potluck

OK I'm a bit mad I just wrote this long ass entry, hit submit, and it didn't publish. I just got this message that a blogger engineer would be looking at the problem. Gee thanks. So I'm not going to rewrite except in bullet form:
- Friday chilled at home
- Saturday full day of errands, then saw Van Dyk at a Love Parade afterparty -- too expensive, too crowded, too sketchy but OK
- Sunday Elena's birthday potluck
- SF is sure beautiful when it's sunny
- Dinner at Kev and Gi's place -- duck and onion rings are yummy

Panorama of the view from Veronica's rooftop

Birthday girl Elena in green

Hanging out with view of TransAmerica building in the background



I was commenting on a document from the Writing Task Force at my university. They are dealing with how to ensure students graduate with adequate writing skills because currently they are not. I was reading other people's comments on remedial English education etc when I came across one that really pissed me off. Here's my select quotes and responses to his post:

I quote " At best, when these students graduate, they will take a job in America that would otherwise go to an American, contributing to our current unemployment problem."

Taking (as you say) a job in America is a near impossible feat that requires finding an employer who will sponsor an H1 visa. Not only are these visas limited in number, few employers will spend the money (thousands of $$ in legal fees) or time to complete the process unless they REALLY need the person for his/her unique set of skills. If that is the case, then I would hardly call it "taking" an American job away from a deserving American.

I quote again "An even greater problem is the economic impact of students who do not register as international students, but simply enter the U.S., legally or illegally, become "California residents" by living with a relative or someone for two years, graduate from a California high school, and pay in-state tuition"

Wrong again. One cannot register as a California resident without permanent residency status (ie greencard) which again requires a sponsoring employer (very very rare these days due to cost and paper work so the sponsored individual is typically quite deserving). If they were sponsored by a relative, that's called immigration and that's what built this great country.

Finally outsourcing is not a problem caused by educating international students as you claim. It's an issue the US becoming less globally competitive. If companies can find skilled people elsewhere, they will. It's all about the bottom line. Most people who work as offshore resources are educated in their home countries. The US needs to focus on adding value to our workers to help them stand out and to be competitive. Grumbling about outsourcing and blaming international students is nothing short of racist.

Essentially this person turned a comment on how to improve the writing skills of our students into a rant about how the school must stop accepting international students. Idiot.


Jay and Jess's wedding

So here are some photos from the wedding over the weekend in Toronto. It's was extra interesting for two reasons. 1. it was a mixed Chinese Korean wedding which means a blending of different customs, 2. Food Network Canada's "I Do, Let's Eat" was filming the whole thing. So now I know what it's like to have a camera crew in your face the whole day. The show, which focuses on wedding cuisine from different cultures, will air June of next year. It'll be the first episode of season 2. How cool is that to have a free professional videographer AND have your wedding on TV??

Simon's folks getting served some tea during the Chinese tea ceremony for the bride's side of the family

Simon and I outside the church

Korean wedding ceremony for the groom's side before the Chinese banquet started. I don't know the details of what was happening and why but there were shot glasses, liquor, and food involved and it was really pretty and elaborate. Any Koreans out there care to explain? I'm guessing the part about throwing dried fruit and nuts into the bride's scarf was a fertility thing?

Korean style full body rock, paper, scissors (this is pretty hilarious)

I think Jess wore a total of 4 different dresses throughout the day and changed probably about 6 times including in and out of the white wedding dress a couple times. There was the white dress, the Korean one for the ceremony, the pink Korean one for dinner, and the Chinese cheong sam for dinner as well.

Now I want to go to more mixed weddings because this one was so cool to watch. In terms of food, I'd love to attend a Greek, French, Japanese, or Italian wedding. I will have to strategically meet engaged friends of those nationalities!

More pics here. Oh yeah, so this wedding reminded me some more about how dull, cold, and no fun my family is compared to the Ma family. Hell will freeze over before my family joins hands and dances in a circle at a wedding. In fact, hell will freeze over before I see my parents hold hands or display any affection to me or to each other. From informal surveys and various chain emails, I gather this is the norm for Chinese families rather than the exception. So I guess that makes the Au family normal.


weekend in TO

Just back from Toronto where we attended Simon's cousin's wedding. I am so wiped out and have so much stuff to post so I'll just leave you with some of my trademark grumbling before I hit the sack. So I was cleaning out my bags looking for my hand sanitizer to take to TO. Nothing sucks more than finding in a bag you haven't used in a long while a book from the public library you forgot you had borrowed. Actually what also sucks it not finding the hand sanitizer after looking through all your bags. Luckily I keep a backup stock in the guest bathroom. Another thing that sucks is getting a super deep paper cut and then forgetting you have it and rubbing at that finger with a cotton pad doused in nail polish remover. OUCH! OK more later. I need to catch up on sleep and regain some semblance of sanity if I ever had any to begin with.



OK gas is getting expensive. My 1997 Integra GSR manual says premium gas. Can someone tell me if that is really true? This premium shit is $3.19 a gallon which is almost $30 a fill. That is an hour and a half of tutoring for me!!! Can't I just pump the cheap stuff instead? Man if I could walk to school I would but 20 miles is a bit far.



Oh and if you ever needed an excuse to shop, go to http://givingworks.ebay.com. A number of people are auctioning off their stuff, old and new, with 100% of the funds going to hurricane relief. Think of it as donating and getting something nice at the same time. I think that's the only way I'd forgive you label whores for spending a few hundred on a Chloe bag to a few thousand bucks on a Hermes bag. I won't call you a materialistic idiot if you do it for charity. :-)

I don't even know what to make of this one. Wow.

coupons and people watching

This weekend was another food fest. Baja Fresh sent coupons in the meal for $5 off a $10 purchase (I'm all for coupons). It was still kind of a rip off since you can get authentic Mexican food for a lot less but it was close to home so we each polished off a burrito. Yum.

After slumming it at home and doing some clean up and chores we pigged out again. This time we had a coupon for the Clubhouse Bistro in the Crowne Plaza in Foster City (thanks again Eva). I got the lobster ravioli and Simon got the meat lover's pizza. The food was surprisingly good. I'm talking really yummy. We got to the Bistro, which turns into a hotel nightclub at 9:30pm, at 9pm. So we didn't pay a cover but we did get all sorts of entertainment over dinner that forced us to get a nice chocolate mousse dessert so we had an excuse to stick around. When this place turns into a club on weekends, it gets pretty crazy in a gross sort of way. This older white couple in their late 50s sitting by us got up onto the stage and started dancing like go go dancers. They actually had rhythm and lots of it. They could've fit right in at a rave. But that wasn't the gross part. The ladies at the table next to us had huge 80s hair (as did many of the other women in the club) and make up applied gently with a spatula. Other sites to see included an abundance of top cleavage spilling over the top of tiny shirts, women in spandex tights and high heels, men with long ponytails, men of all sorts shamelessly looking the women up and down, and a few older Asian women in huge platform shoes and skanky clothing.

There was one individual particularly worth noting. An Asian woman with conservative short hair, no make up, and glasses about the age that most of us would call "auntie" (Chinese kids have to call anyone remotely close to their parents' age "auntie"). Auntie was braless and wearing a top that plunged at the neckline to her belly button so you could see a side profile of her boobs. She also got up on stage and shook 'em. It was, needless to say, a scary sight. Despite the huge age range and weird fashion sense of the folks at the club, the place was a crazy meat market. Everyone was picking up everyone and all this in little Foster City. Imagine that!

Anyways, today was another ho hum day. Washed the cars, took a ballroom lesson at the rec center (that was fun!) and ate another huge meal, this time at Harry Hofbraus. We had never been there and it's our goal to eat at every restaurant in our city. It's basically (white) home cookin'. You get roast beef, turkey, chicken, or leg of lamb and choose a couple sides and it's all served cafeteria style. Comes to about $10 a meal and it's a pretty big meal and the salads are really nice and fresh. If I were every aiming to gain weight I'd go back for sure.


favourite products

Everyone has a favourite product or two, or more. Yes, generally I'm anti-consumerist and ridicule people who rely on brand names and designer goods to establish/convey a sense of self/identity, but there's no avoiding the fact that we need certain things to get through our day. So my favourites tend to be things that are good quality, do what they say they'll do (if they have any advertising), and are a good value. Off the top of my head, my favourites include AlphaHydrox skincream (by far the best exfoliating cream, better than Roc and all the other AHA creams and cheaper, available at Longs), my Canon S600 printer (5 years old and going strong, cartridges only $6 or so), Glysomed for really dry skin (the thick cream in a green tube, the richest most effective moisturizer EVER and cheap), Reactine allergy meds (nothing else works, available in Canada only sorry), and Gold Toe sport socks (nice and thick, don't lose elasticity, fit snug, cheap at Marshall's yup).

Stuff I generally think is a rip off and a joke - anything Clinique (except the men's face scrub because nothing is as abrasive and I like it that way), Palm (talk about lack of progress and shitty UI), Nike shoes (cheap construction, poor support, fall apart fast), Essie nailcolor (overpriced for shitty nail polish that goes on dull and chips easily), Aldo shoes (I'm still bitter about several pair of poorly constructed shoes I got in the mid 1990s that they refused to exchange and insisted on half assed repairs). Anyways, speaking of bad skincare products, I read this book over the summer and I recommend it. She has her biases (e.g. not liking shiny eye shadows) but a lot of the beauty industry myths she busts seem well informed and her review of products she discusses that I've tried seem bang on so far. Read it before you shell out any more money at the department store beauty counter. I don't like the fact that she started her own line of products recently but she doesn't peddle them as hard as Dr. Phil (though I still like Dr. Phil).

So I'm curious, what are your favourite and least favourite products?


condensed hell

How come long weekends are always followed by ridiculously busy weekdays? Today I had to prep for a contest speech and a guest lecture, both of which are taking place tomorrow. And I still haven't even had a chance to visit my thesis committee chair since school started, nor have I gotten any more interviewees. My day won't end til 9:30 tomorrow same with Thursday and I hope to throw back a drink or five soon after that. Crap everything is snowballing. If I could have one wish, it would be the power to make time stand still on command.


weekend in Monterey

We took off Friday morning to do an overnight trip to Monterey with our friends Ben and Candice. Always nice to get away for a long weekend especially if you get back a day early to recover. This trip was an eat-a-thon. We got to Cannery Row and had a big seafood lunch and then headed to the aquarium since none of us have been there. Thanks for the Entertainment book coupon Eva. That saved us a total of $20! After that we checked into the Quality Inn, one of many spots with absolutely no vacancy for the weekend. Thanks AAA! After a long nap (God we're old), we walked down to Alvarado street for dinner and then headed back to the hotel after a stop off at the local liquor store. The next day we did the 17 mile drive, walked around Carmel, ate another huge lunch and headed back home where we went to Tapioca Express in Mountain View (the people who work there are sooooo confused on so many levels) to eat a late dinner. Today Simon and I geeked out at Fry's and then walked around Ikea where we also ended up eating dinner. Hooray for $2.99 BBQ chicken special and $2 desserts!

Me with Bubba Gump Shrimp at Cannery Row

Simon and I inside a clamshell at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Nothing more trailer than drinking malt liquor and eating chips in bed


my new PDA

So I decided that if I'm going to spend money on a used PDA, it has to be a Pocket PC because I really cannot stand Palm. I almost got a Toshiba for about $60 but then I thought, how much more would it cost to get one with wifi? That would be really handy with the free wifi I get at school and at the library. So I snooped around on eBay and found the cheapest to be Dell Axims. There's the older X3, followed by X5, X30, and the slick new X50 with 624 Mhz.

So I got on eBay. With $40 in my PayPal account from selling my old purses and clothes I was ready to get myself a new toy. After a fierce bidding war I won an auction for a slightly used Dell Axim X5 with Wifi card (no not internal in this version). $122.50 and $15 shipping for total of $137.50. 400 Mhz and expansion slots and all that stuff. But I'm not satisfied with just winning an auction, I have to watch a couple more to make sure I got a good deal.

So another X5 just sold 2 minutes ago. It was the same as mine but with an extra battery (they cost $8) and keyboard (about $25). That just sold for $170 and $10 shipping so $180. $40+ more than mine so I'm happy and I can continue going about my day.

my second home

So this is where I spend 5+ hours a week. Emphasis added on the +. Welcome to the grad lounge for the Broadcast and Electronic Communications Dept at SF State. Those of you in UC and private universities (or any school in Canada) go ahead and laugh because I did when I first walked in here. This "lounge" is where I run my office hours and a writing lab for students who need help with their writing assignments.

Anyways, as you can see this place is a total shithole and not only is it a shithole, it is a shithole located in the bowels of the creative arts building which is about 50 years old and the subject of many lawsuits pertaining to handicap access or so I hear from a senior faculty member. I just worry the whole building will crumble as soon as the next earthquake strikes.

The floor is cement but partially covered with a really old and grotesque rug. We've also got a second perhaps dirtier rug rolled up and leaning against the wall by the door. It's probably been there for a decade or three waiting to be adopted. We've got 4 old Macs, 3 of them work most of the time but can only run a really old version of Netscape. I think we had more powerful computers at Simon Fraser in 1994 when I was doing my BA. The printer in our lounge never has ink and the lamps sitting on the monitors were donated by a fellow grad student and are for "mood lighting"...what kind of mood I don't know.

We have a bar fridge that is so filthy no one uses it. But it does the job of holding up the coffee maker and coffee that, well, no one uses either. But we do have a TV, VCR and stereo. I don't think the latter is functional but the TV works after you give it a good thud with a closed fist. Oh and we also have a great little microwave that takes a VERY long time to heat up anything probably because the door doesn't seal shut and most of the radiation is actually cooking the students in the room. The rolling chair is my favorite but one of the wheels comes off and I've nearly fallen to the floor on more than one occasion. Oh and lest we not forget the art on the walls that some student must've stolen from Motel 6 in 1972 or so.

So yeah, this is probably the dumpiest grad lounge in this country but I have to say I have a lot of fun in here. The door has a code to keep out those pesky undergrads and grad students frequently come in to nap, check email between classes, or hold their own TA office hours. That means there's a lot of traffic in here and a lot of time to spend with each other gossiping, commiserating, planning parties, sharing advice, generally shooting the shit, and, near semester's end, pulling out hair and panicking. A lot of memories were made here and when I graduate in a semester (or thereabouts), I'm really going to miss this shithole.



I haven't posted in a while mostly because school started and chaos set in like the fog over San Francisco. Wow that was one lame analogy. But really, it's been a hell of a ride. Back to my schedule of tutoring 4 students 2x a week each, running the writing lab at school 5 hours a week (I heard students think of writing lab as punishment and hate it and thus hate me by association, how uplifting), running my Toastmasters club, working on my thesis, applying to schools, and finally TAing another class. The instructor for that class pulled a no show on me at our scheduled meeting and then arrived to the first class 35 minutes late. I hadn't even met the guy yet. So by then one of the undergrad assistants had gone to the department office to call around for him to make sure he had the right room info and by that time the department chair and last semester's acting chair had caught wind of the situation and come to our classroom to deal with the 75 confused students....and then the instructor ran in. Apparently he had installed something on his computer which set his computer clock back an hour. That shit happens to the best of us. I'm just glad that wasn't me.

So anyways, it's been a busy week and I cannot wait for the long weekend. I've been really bad about going to bed before 2am because I have a stack of things to do on my desk and I cannot resist the tempation to squeeze in a little bit of blog reading and online window shopping. It's gonna be one of those nights. Dammit.