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



30 club

So it was a productive weekend. Watched Crash (plot was forced but it still worked for me and I enjoyed it) , got some work done, went running twice (I'm up to a whopping almost 3 miles), got new tires for Simon and then headed out for Candice's 30th birthday. Yup looks like there's only a small handful of us now who have yet to join the 30 club. Cecil, thanks for reminding me of your December birthday and that you haven't even turned 29 yet. Bastard :P

I haven't seen some of my friends for months. It was nice to break out of my reclusiveness for a night and sit outside at Voda Lounge with all my close Bay Area friends to chit chat, tease, place bets on when Candice would lose her dinner, and tell drunk tales. It's so damn hard these days to not be anti-social and sit at home doing work, especially when my bank account is hurting so bad. But I have to say a couple martinis, fresh evening air, and conversation with friends sure made for a good time. I will have to remember that next time I whine about having to put on make up and drag a brush through my mop to leave the house. Living vicariously through my younger at heart friends (like Will) by reading their blogs is really a poor substitute for getting out a little. I think I'll start this weekend by heading out with my school pals to our prof Brent's performance on Friday. Anyone wanna join us? My friends are actively in a competition to see who can make out with the most random people (and I'm obviously not in this competition) so I wouldn't mind some company. I'll even explain the rules of the contest - there's a complex point system involving bonus points for such things as making out with someone already out on a date, out with their mom, practicing Mormons, bartenders, under 21/over 31, under 5'3"/over 6'3", can't speak a lick of English, married, with children, engaged and a whole slew of other categories that we came up with over sake bombs a few weeks back.



Not having a car certainly makes a mess of one's regular routine. I finally got my car back this morning and with my new, well, EVERYTHING the car drives like a dream. I got to see my clutch and a whole damn spring had come loose and there were twisted shards of metal from the spring and bolts flying around and wrecking shit. Now shifting is like cutting butter with a hot knife. Now I can get back to some degree of homeostasis. Got a couple more big statement of purpose application essays done last week, did my guest speech at the Lion's club, and midterms are all graded and returned so things are settling down.

Next challenge -- refilling the huge gaping hole in my checking account from auto repairs, customizing my other 9 statement of purpose essays, and delivering another guest speech at the new Toastmasters Club at Applied Biosystems. The speech I'm on is called "The Abstract Concept." I've decided to title my speech Demystifying Postmodernism, but now I'm thinking that's a bit much to cover in 6-8 minutes. We'll see how it goes. I need to get some sleep. Snowy and Fatty decided to run a marathon on their wheel last night and the stupid wheel kept hitting the side of their aquarium but I was too lazy to get up and fix it and it kept me up for many hours. Now that is first class laziness.

Oh yeah, Canucks beat the Wild last nightl. Yay Canucks!


scary part deux


Wannabe Olsen twins who sing about white supremacy...and they live in Bakersfield, CA. They have gotten death threats and are said to be in hiding now. I think I'm going to go throw up.

car update

The bolts and springs that were holding the clutch inside the tranny came loose which damages the fly wheel and the clutch so the repair is $856. So I get brand new Acura bearings, bolts, seals, clutch, pressure plate etc.

I actually read about this problem in an Integra forum and it happened to another of my mechanic's friends. So those of you with 1997 Integra GSRs with manual transmission who have problems getting into gear (and it's not as simple as the clutch slipping), you know what to look for and it ain't good. Please note my new PayPal donation button -->