12.29.2006

ham video game

One of the best things I've seen on You Tube. Live action hamster video game.

sloth

Yay, I finished the book I need to read for the Asian American Cinema class I TA this quarter. Perpetually Cool: The Many Lives of Anna May Wong took me for-freakin-ever to read despite the speed reading skills I developed this past quarter (8 books/course readers in 10 weeks). I think it was because it was both a biography and a somewhat of a dense lesson in Chinese/Chinese-American history and I was desperately trying to retain the bulk of that info. It was also just really interesting and I didn't feel the urge to skim and scan at any point.

So yeah, I haven't gotten out of my pajamas (and this is the third day this week, though not in a row, that I've done this). I get like this when I'm at my parent's house. Finding the motivation to do anything but surf the web, watch TV, or read is akin to moving a mountain. I don't even have an appetite for food which tends to surprise people. It's almost as though the house that I grew up in swallows me whole and I re-live all that adolescent angst and apathy. I really wish my parents would move to a different house in a different neighborhood so I don't have to deal with this every fucking time I visit. Seriously, it's getting stupid. Their incessant nagging and other forms of annoying dysfunctional communication don't help any. At least now I'm old enough to drink my dad's stash of beer. In fact right now I'm having a nice Sleeman Amber Ale which is tastier than the Honey Ale that I had before this. Hopefully this will remedy the insomnia that also plagues me during these visits home.

12.28.2006

firefox

How come no one told me my blog looks totally messed up in the latest FireFox. Dammit, one more thing to fix.

Dec photos

This is what the wind storm did to my parent's house. Good bye fence!


Here's the siding that ripped off my apartment in Seattle. Some of it got wrapped around a tree. And here I was cowering under the covers thinking that I was just imagining my home coming apart at the seams. When the hell does a wind storm qualify as a hurricane man?


My older cousin at our Xmas afterparty at his friends house



Alex admires the 64 oz. flask I got him for Xmas.


The recycle bin at CTV

12.26.2006

not so merry

So Xmas always goes like this. I get nagged at all day to get dressed and go to my aunt's house. Then my parents bitch some more that I'm going to make us late for my grandpa's birthday cake cutting and he's going to get all pissed off. This year was no different. I think he even turned 93 again. I swear he's turned 93 the past three years. We get to eat this Chinese type fruit and cream cake with this awful chestnut shit that my older cousin always offers to take off my plate for me. Thanks! After that we go into the other room to watch movies while the grown ups talk in the other room. (ie my uncle talks about Jesus a whole bunch and then they break into gossip and shit about who's dating who, how ugly/fat/pretty they are, and why Vanessa is such a fucking unmarried loser).

We turn up the volume some more and keep watching or do some gambling. Since there's been a falling out in the Au family, one of the cousins and her parents hasn't shown up for Xmas for about hmmm 9 years so that makes the gambling less fun and we do that quite rarely. Anyways, as soon as the gifts are distributed we make the parents carpool home and we cousins go out drinking or to a karaoke. This year we had to hit a bar first because we had time to kill before heading to a friend's house. Not many were open. We ended up at Pub Med in Burnaby near my cousin's house. We find a seat out on the patio by a heat lamp and I head back in with my cousin to get a pitcher. He asks the bartender in his cheery-I-can't-wait-to-have-a-drink voice, "hi, could I get a pitcher of ____?" (can't remember the beer).

The bartender stares him down like he's going to jump the counter and stab us both many many times. He says coldly, "you don't talk to me like that!"

Drunk white dude sitting at the bar by himself says with a giggle, "he's having a rough night, man. He wants you to say please."

At this point I'm waiting for my cousin to (a) mouth off at the mother fucker and get us all out of there (b) do the opposite and ask REALLY nicely. He chooses (b). I read his mind. There's no other bars open in the area and he's thirsty. I'm disappointed but also glad that we didn't create any drama. The place looks family owned and family was outside at the patio and it could've gotten violent and ugly. But still I'm steaming mad that they could be like that to customers who are coming in on a slow night to bring them business. It's not like we owe them anything and it's not like my cousin was being rude. He even left a nice tip (I dunno why). So yeah, Pub Med, fuck you.

12.24.2006

cruise

So I'm back from my California/cruise adventure. We spent last Saturday driving down to Santa Barbara where we stayed one night at the Harbor House Inn. Very nice little place with a mini kitchen and living room and a basket with juices, tea and fresh baked pumpkin bread. We spent that evening at a sports bar on State street drinking and watching the Canucks game, and later the Sharks. It was at this bar we met another hockey fan who told us he was the GM of KTVU for years. We Googled him when we got home and found out he is a racist son of a bitch.

Sunday we headed down to LA and checked into a hotel in Century City. We shopped down in Santa Monica and had a nice dinner at BOA steakhouse. Monday we headed down to Long Beach where we feasted at Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles. I've heard so much about this place but since I'm not a huge fan of fried chicken or waffles, it just didn't seem that great. After lunch we dropped off the car at a coworker's apartment and he gave us a lift to the cruise terminal. The 4 days of cruising were great. It's basically a 24 hour buffet for 4 days. We were assigned to a dinner table with a funny couple about our age, both of them in the Air Force. One works in finance and the other handles the contracting of projects to the private sector. It was fun hanging out with them and learning about the benefits they get and the kinds of things they do. To be honest I don't know anyone in the military.

The downer of the cruise, aside from catching a cold on the second to last day, was that our head waiter told us that he works 12 hour days, 7 days a week, 6 months at a time. Then gets 2 months off and is back at it again. He said it was fun when he was young and single but after 9 years he's tired and misses his kids. I decided to sniff around a bit and see if he was exaggerating to get bigger tips but .... I found this. And also this. And now I'm not sure how I feel about going on cruises. It's kind of like buying clothes at the Gap and Old Navy. I know they don't monitor the working conditions in their factories as well as they claim they do but then where can someone with a limited income buy clothes? Even if you buy from an independent designer who makes the clothes herself or you attempt to sew your own clothes, who knows under what conditions the fabric was manufactured (my prof in my globalization class brought that up and stumped us on that one).

I think I have more leeway to make sound decisions on where to spend my few vacation dollars though. I'm not sure I can in good conscience do this again knowing that the workers make less than $5 an hour if you count all the hours they actually work. I'm sure there are ways to explore the world without putting money in the pockets of big corporations and robbing the workers in the process. This fellow in Newfoundland has done a lot of writing on the cruise ship industry if you want to read more.

Anyways, time to tidy up and get ready to head to Vancouver tomorrow to spend the rest of my break.

12.13.2006

holy wind

It is ridiculously windy out here. I just got my cable back. Somehow the weather messed up the cable TV and Internet. The lid to the dumpster at the foodbank keeps flying open and closed. I have to spend my this afternoon watching my students deliver advocacy speeches in red square. I feel like I'm gonna need to anchor myself to one of the heavier students to prevent being blown away. This shit is kinda scary. I can't wait til next week. I'll be headed to LA this weekend and then will be laying around on a cruise ship headed from Long Beach to Catalina Island and Ensenada.

12.10.2006

web stuff

Dammit I hate the new Blogger beta. I have to friggin sign in twice and then I get this sloppy ass console and I can't go back to original blogger. Ah shit.

Anyways, I finished my last two papers today. I still need to do a proofread and sanity check and list of references but I'm otherwise done. I even had enough time today to update vanessaau.com and www.hammies.com.

And now I'm going to sleep for a very very long time. Tomorrow I'll send in that last paper, hit the gym and buy some groceries. It's going to be nice.

12.08.2006

distribution list II

Thought I would post another email from Caitlin, the person I've never met who sends out lame emails with annoying emoticons and atrocious grammar to this distribution list that they put me on by accident. Yes... there are rules for dim sum. How cute. Does anyone really go to dim sum with expectations other than of little baskets of delicious greasy goodness?

Hello Friends,

Here's the schedule for this Saturday event as follows:

WHAT = DimSum
WHERE = The New Kowloon Seafood Restaurant (it has parking garage!)
RULES: = Have fun. No expectations. Go with the flow. Bring a friend or friends!


AFTER THE DIMSUM: BOWLING, MOVIE, and SPORT ACTIVIES
We'll decide together as a group to play SPORTS, watch movies, and go bowling at night.


Oh and the other cool thing is they sometimes send out photos from the events in the emails. Turns out the party with the girls with way too much make up on were probably not part of this crowd. They were from a party they attended.

final week

One more week, 1.5 more papers to write, 29 more speeches to grade, and my first quarter will be over. What I've learned this quarter:

- 10 weeks goes by really fast
- the selection committee rocked because I love my cohort. Typically there's some abrasive asshole in the class, or the chick who can't stop talking because she wants to hear herself talk, or the "not the sharpest tool in the shed" student(s) who somehow slipped through during the selection process. None of those characters is in my cohort. What a far cry from my master's program. If Maya is reading this, I'm sure she is nodding and/or laughing.
- I'm not the smartest kid in the class anymore, not like back in elementary school where there wasn't too much competition. In fact, I sometimes wonder if I'm the dumbest. But everyone seems to be claiming that everyone else is smarter than him/her (including the insightful and articulate one who already has a book contract, jeesh). In any case, being a part of this program has been very very humbling and I have much to learn from my peers
- when you do not try to do a million things at once and just focus on one thing, that one thing is easier. I've managed to get through school without losing too much sleep but have sacrificed having a life.
- when you don't have a life and take the bus daily and eat at home and pack a lunch, you can live really really cheap
- it is possible to read 6 books, 2 huge reading packets, and other miscellaneous assigned readings in 10 weeks
- it is possible to write 11 papers in 10 weeks
- when someone dies (ie my professor) people gather to recall funny stories and say nice things about that person. I think people should do more of that when people are still alive to hear it.

12.04.2006

H0H 0H0

It was funny that this story on the urban legends web site popped up on my home page via RSS. I actually remember writing letters to Santa and addressing it to him using the Canadian postal code H0H 0H0. However, I don't remember him writing back as it's claimed he does now. I think my parents took the letter and promised to drop it off in the mail but never did. I wonder who has the job of writing back to all these kids and who pays the postage for sending these letters.

And a couple updates. 3 of the 4 members of the missing Kim family have been found. Hopefully James Kim is found alive soon too. Less important update. I have put in an order to switch to Cingular so I can finally get a new phone (LG CU500) and not some piece of shit hand me down, and no I did not change my phone number.

Oh and I wanted to share something that made my day. One of the little multiple choice quizzes from my students came back with a little drawing up top. Yeeeeah, I rock.

12.03.2006

number

I've decided I've had enough with T-Mobile. I changed my plan online and it wasn't shown in my bill, nor did the web site have a mechanism to tell me that I did not qualify for one of the business plans listed as my options. When I emailed to complain about poor reception in my home I got no reply. When I emailed to complain that existing customers get a smaller discount on phones when extending a contract than do new customers, I got no reply. They have great cheap plans if you rarely use your phone (like me before I moved to Seattle) but at the $39.99 pricepoint or higher, I have to say that Cingular has a better plan and cheaper better hand sets.

The billing rep grew concerned about my frustration and passed me to an account rep to try to swing a deal to keep me. But as a customer for over 4 years, I've felt pretty unrewarded. Now with this number portability it's easy to switch....but my number has a Bay Area area code so I'm wondering if I should switch to a local Seattle number now.

The pros: my apartment will let me hook up the local number to the front door thing to let people in. People who actually use a landline won't have to call long distance to reach me. I might get a really cool number with 8s or that spell something memorable.

The cons: I have to change all my records and get all my friends to record my new number. They all use cell phones so it's just a hassle and makes no difference in terms of paying to talk to me. I might get a shitty number with 4s and shit in it. And there's one last one. That symbolically means I'm not a Bay Area gal no more. This would make me a real Seattlite and I'm not sure I'm ready to give up my 650 area code.

What to do?

missing

Find the Kim family missing since Saturday when they were last seen in Portland en route to SF.

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/12/01/BAGJ6MNGK81.DTL

and an updated article here after a sighting in a Denny's Restaurant

http://news.com.com/Road+search+under+way+for+missing+CNET+editor/2100-1028_3-6140118.html

12.02.2006

Dion

I haven't been able to follow the elections from down here but based on reading the backgrounds of the two people battling to lead the Liberals, it looks like Dion is the right choice. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061203/ap_on_re_ca/canada_liberals_2

I can't wait to send Harper packing. Damn the Conservatives for pitching the idea that we needed a change from Liberal leadership and selling it so well to those who vote based on emotionally charged TV commercials.

I hope Dion is as fiesty as Chretien.

11.30.2006

week

Has it only been a week since I came back from Thanksgiving? Not even. I got back Sunday. What took this week so damn long to pass. I am looking forward to going for drinks with my cohort tomorrow to plan the "entertainment" for our department holiday as is the tradition. Yes the students who have been a part of the department for 10 weeks are in charge of putting on some sort of funny skit/show/entertainment for everyone else. I think what's supposed to be funny is just seeing what we can come up with seeing as we know barely a handful of the faculty and have just learned our way around the campus. Any ideas for work appropriate performances?

The last one I was part of was a dance routine at the Seagate Software Holiday party in 1998 which we did to the music from the Full Monty. It involved stripping down to shorts in a rather provocative way. All I know is I was so intoxicated that I almost for forgot the dance routine and my equally intoxicated friend took a bottle of wine "to go" when we left the party for a club. Incidentally the club bouncers did not let us in because we spilled out of the taxi visibly drunk. "uh uh, no way," he said. Actually was the wine stolen from the party or from the restaurant we ended up at... I dont remember.

11.29.2006

dammit

What the hell is up with the city of Seattle? We're on day three of this weather and the sidewalks and side streets are still covered with ice and there is not a speck of salt or sand to be found. I have to literally skate in my running shoes to and from the bus stop and this is on a busy main street that is well traveled by pedestrians. I saw old women shuffling along on the ice with a cane in hand. Don't tax dollars go to things like salting roads and sidewalks so that people don't fucking kill themselves getting around? I thought BC was short on salt trucks and snow clearing resources but this is far far worse. I feel like bringing my own damn salt. I'm also going to complain of my own stupidity. I was vaccuuming and a corner of my 400 fucking thread count duvet cover got sucked into the vaccuum and now there is a big charred hole in the corner. Fuck, I guess I could stitch it up but my sewing machine is in SF.

11.28.2006

Deb

So the memorial for my professor takes place tomorrow at school. We have one person in our class, the only class Deb taught, who will say a few words on our behalf. Here's my contribution and a nice obituary in the Seattle PI.

Coming to a "research 1" university from a teaching university was a bit daunting. We've been told that we'll need to learn how to take criticism and so I braced myself. I came here expecting professors to use praise very sparingly. I thought maybe they'd want to toughen us up and make us work harder. But I remember there were a couple times where Deb reserved a good amount of class time just to tell us how impressed she was with us, how we've really grasped the concepts we've learned in class, and how much she appreciated our effort. I was really touched that she made a point of saying these things to us. She truly was a compassionate teacher.

---------------------

Getting around today really sucked. Half my students were stuck someplace where the bus didn't come or where the streets, like most, were covered in ice. Where the hell are the salt trucks? This is as bad as Vancouver. And Robyn, this is my first winter in Seattle but the weather tends to be similar to Vancouver's and snow usually comes only a few times a year and definitely not until December/January. I'm sure that this wacky weather is due to global warming making a mess of our enviroment. Why won't our world leaders pay attention to all this?

11.27.2006

snow & bowling

Mother Nature caused my flight to be delayed 3 hours last night getting me to SEA past midnight, and me home at 1am which really sucks when you have a meeting in the morning. It snowed just a wee bit last night.

Now it's 5pm and as soon as I got off the bus, the snow started coming down like crazy in little snow balls about the size of fish eyeballs. Not as hard as hail but not as fluffy as snow. Here's how it looks RIGHT NOW. Good thing I don't have to drive anywhere because I'm pretty sure my car wouldn't make it up that incline you see there from the locked garage.


Snowy Seattle in November

Outside my place

In other news, my Thanksgiving weekend was fun. Lots of eating including fried turkey at our place and lunch at Shanghai Dumpling House in Millbrae which was delicious. I also coerced the gang to go bowling again and yes, I finally broke 100. So my theory is that drunkeness improves bowling ability to a certain point before it rapidly deterioriates -- I bowled 101 in game 1, 117 in game 2, and I scored 56 in game 3, an all time low.

Notice the impressive strike, gutter ball, strike combo in game 1.





















11.22.2006

distribution list

For the past couple months I've been part of an email distribution list that announces fun things to do on the weekend in the Seattle area. I've been invited to movies, potlucks at people's homes, concerts and even Thanksgiving dinner. The funny part is I have no idea who the hell these people are. Someone named Caitlin typically sends the emails and I have even clicked on the links to view photos from the events and I definitely don't know these folks. They're about 10 years younger than me and wear a lot of make up. At first I thought it was a nuisance and was going to email Caitlin so she could take me off this damn list. But I forgot to and kept getting these emails. Then the stalker in me found it kinda funny to know what people do on weekends. But the horrible grammar and the way she signs off the emails are getting to me.

e.g. "Don't forget to smile ;0) *Wink*"

Seriously. Is it necessary to type *wink* when the smiley emoticon is already winking? And it makes me want to puke violently when people sign off with some message about smiling. It's just. Lame.

I think I'll hide out on this distribution list a while longer before alerting Caitlin in case they write some more funny shit for me to share on this blog. God, I'm such an asshole!

11.20.2006

jeans

I felt like living on the edge today so I went off to school in a pair of jeans so ridiculously worn that I ran the risk of being bottomless by end of day. They are incredibly soft and comfortable and don't make my ass look wide so I wore them. Partway through a meeting about fulfilling "methods" requirements and finding the right advisor, I felt like my jeans weren't fitting right for some reason. I reached down and to my horror felt the back of where my ass meets my thigh. Being fully clothed and reaching back and feeling your own flesh is kinda surreal. My trusty jeans had finally given in and a hole had formed below my back pocket. Luckily it wasn't as big as it first felt. The first thing I did upon standing up at the end of the meeting was put on my long rain coat. I think until my entire ass is hanging out I'm going to keep wearing these jeans. Probably not on teaching days or even to school, but they have not seen their final days. Not yet. Didn't people of both genders wear spandex tights under jeans full of holes back in the early 1980s? Maybe that look will come back. The 80s were good.

11.19.2006

high school

I guess this thing would be appropriate since I spent Saturday afternoon reminiscing about (recalling the horror that was) high school.

Fill this out about your SENIOR year of high school! The longer ago it was, the more fun the answers will be. [I'm sorry but what the fuck is so fun about remembering high school. I'm doing this because it's sort of tragic and possibly entertaining/enlightening to other people]

1. Who was your best friend? I guess Caron A. but my circle of friends changed often depending on which way the wind blew. (i.e. who was doing the backstabbing that week)

2.What sports did u play? Gymnastics

3. What kind of car did you drive? 1986 Pontiac piece of shit hatchback

4. It's Friday night, where were you? Somewhere in the Edmonds Burnaby area hanging out with boyfriend and his friends

5. Were you a party animal? Does abusing substances while not at a party count?

6. Were you considered a flirt? What would've been the point. I went to a mostly white school long before it was fashionable to date/fetishize Asian girls.

7. Ever skip school? Not really

8. Were you a nerd? A bit but I didn't do that well in school either

10. Did you get suspended/expelled? Never, and what happened to #9?

11. Can you sing the fight song? What the hell is that?

12. Who was your favorite teacher? Can't remember his name but he almost sent me to counseling for coming in looking like I wanted to kill myself every morning.

13. Favorite class? I really hated high school.

14. What was your school's full name? Centennial

15. School mascot? Centaur

16. Did you go to Prom? It's not called prom where I went. It was called Grad.

17. If you could go back and do it over, would you? No, it was fucking lame.

18. What do you remember most about graduation? Riding there in a horse drawn carriage with my friends from gymnastics.

19. Favorite memory of your Senior Year? We called that grade 12. I didn't have a favourite memory. Although most vivid memories would be dealing with two suicide attempts by two different friends. One involved taking her to the hospital, the other involved helping a girl out of class to throw up the bottle of Tylenol she took and then calling her boyfriend to take her to the hospital

20. Where were you on senior skip day? Is this another American phenomenon? I don't know what this is.

21. Did you have a job your senior year? Coached gymnastics for 4 different organizations

22. Where did you go most often for lunch? On the floor in a hallway anywhere I could spot someone I knew. We had staggered lunch blocks which meant you didn't always get to lunch with friends. I guess that added to my isolation and hatred of high school.

23. Have you gained weight since then? Of course.

24. What did you do after graduation? Go to SFU where there was more than just a few token non-ESL ethnic minorities. Alas, someplace where I actually fit in.

25. When did you graduate? a long time ago

26. Who was your Senior prom date? my neurotic controlling bf

27. Are you going to your ten year reunion? This is obviously not directed to people my age if you talking about this being in the future. We didn't have a reunion because we were cliqueish and everyone hated each other. In a graduating class of 1000, if you didn't hate someone, you were either friends or didn't know them.

28. Who was your home room teacher? Jeez, I don't remember

29. Who will repost this after you? Whoever wants to demonstrate that their high school experience was more tragic than mine.

weekend

I went deep into hiding this weekend since I had Friday off while half my department headed to the National Communication Association conference in San Antonio. After a quick trip to Target Thursday after lunch, I packed up and got on I-5 North only to get stuck in a massive traffic jam in Everett where there was an accident involving a cement truck earlier in the day. It me three and a half hours to finally get home. I didn't really tell anyone I was heading up because this was to be homework bootcamp for me.

After dinner Thursday night, I graded speeches and assignments until I couldn't keep my eyes open. In between grading I reviewed student speech outlines via email.

Friday was reading day. I spent the entire day (which started late because I slept in) reading Hugh Miles's Al-Jazeera and finished by 2am that night. Man, marathon reading is really gonna progress my already atrocious nearsightedness.

Saturday morning I worked out an outline for my review of the book for my globalization class, then headed out for lunch with some friends from high school. As soon as I got back from my very very long lunch, I buckled down and started on the paper. Took a break for dinner and finished the paper by 9:30 pm which is record time for me. Stayed up til 2am again reading for another class and started to outline a response paper Sunday morning.

Today all I had time to do was pack up, head out for lunch, get gas and hit the road. Luckily the rain held up for most of my drive home. 15 min wait at the border, 1/2 hour to get my visa stamped (which is a one time thing), total travel time 3 hours. Not bad considering the stop off for the visa stamp.

Hooray for a three day week!

11.15.2006

sad day

There's nothing more surreal than opening up your email in the morning and finding a message that says "I am sorry to report that Professor Deb Kaplan died in her sleep last night..." and then coming to school and seeing this on the front page of our school's daily newspaper. I've seen her twice a week the last 7 weeks as she was the prof for a foundation theory class all the entering graduate students take together. I almost feel like I'm watching all this happen as an outsider...the emails, the flowers, the grad students camped outside her door chatting and writing messages on colored paper to tape to her door, all the counseling and memorials our wonderful department chair and admin are organizing in one short day. It's like seeing it happen on TV. It's weird to think that someone you saw alive and well 6 days ago is suddenly not here. I realized I actually haven't had someone I see so regularly die before, not since high school when a number of my classmates got in fatal car accidents. I mean there were grandparents I saw very rarely and acquaintances I didn't know well, but definitely nothing this unexpected.

Aside from all this it also makes me wonder what "died in her sleep" means. Is that a euphemism? Is it really as painless, peaceful, and instantaneous as it sounds? People always say there's no better way to go but I always wonder if it really is as pleasant as it sounds. We're really not sure what the natural causes are since that covers a whole lot of stuff. I am pretty sure there were some underlying causes and things didn't just stop working (I think that only happens when you're really elderly) but still it reminds you just how fragile life is. I'm glad she got news of a book deal recently. I hope that she talked to some good friends, did something enjoyable, and had some nice meals last week. Makes me sort of think of things that you need to remember to do on a regular basis just in case your time comes unexpectedly. Talk to people, make time to do things that are fun, eat well, don't waste time stressing out or being a grumpy selfish asshole.

damn I'm tired

Ever stay up so late that you get too tired to actually pick yourself up off the couch to go to bed. That is me right now. Last weekend was a nice break and visit to SF where I went bowling (88 was my high score for the night), ate lots of good food, stopped at a friend's bday, worked out, and saw Borat (holy cow funny, sad, scary, and hard to watch all at the same time). On the way home I got stuck at SJC for 2 fucking hours because my plane was delayed in Denver. I hate that but it doesn't usually happen with Alaska Airlines (America West and Frontier, however, are the airlines I flew for work and they screwed me every trip and robbed me of many hours of my life). When I got back my garage was flooded with about 3" of water that I had to walk through to get to the door and up the elevator. That was a bitch. Since then I've been trying to play catch up since I was not doing a heck of a lot of work down in Cali. I'm going to hide out in Vancouver this weekend and try to get 1 book read and 3 papers written (yeah right). I have managed to find time for a little fun activity with my classmates. People call it stitch and bitch but we dont like the connotation of bitch so we call our group Purls of Wisdom. Knitting at a cafe in the UDistrict while discussing all the dense and sometimes hard to grasp theory we are learning in class. That's the other reason I need to go home. I need some knitting needles and yarn from my mom.

11.09.2006

midterm report

I don't actually take exams anymore (except my comprehensive exams or whatever in a few years) but it is midterm time. So far I have survived this program without losing much sleep, literally. I've kept to my goal of 8 hours per night or more and still gotten all my grading, reading, and writing done. I even have time to make dinner every night. Although sometimes I just make a HUGE batch of something that serves as dinner, lunch the next day, and also dinner the next day (sometimes for me and my roomate when she's home). So with proper eating and sleep I've managed my schedule and stayed sane so far.

However, things have had to go. The only TV I get to consume is a bit of news or Discovery or hockey on CBC during meals or late at night on a weekend. I've also been out to hang out I think a total of 3 nights since I moved here (my department grad student pub runs don't count because I NEED that beer on Fridays). Blog reading and writing has been drastically cut down sadly. Exercise has gone to the shitter too. I know that's supposed to be as important as the eat and sleep routine but I can't figure out the logistics of bus commute and trekking all the way to the IMA (gym) and carrying all my work out crap on the bus along with my backpack and laptop. So I've worked out on weekends a couple times and gone running a few times on sunny days. Sunny days are no longer and I don't do cold/wet weather running because I'm lame like that. So next goal is to better integrate exercise into my life. I wish I could go to gymnastics down the street but it would be a bit out of my budget. Damn.

11.08.2006

Rumsfeld

Being at home at strange hours in the day means I get to watch live press conferences on TV. Right now Bush is speaking (reading) and announcing the replacement for Rumsfeld. Oh my god, he still havsn't learned to pronouce nuclear. Watching him read is so painful. Despite my loathing for him, I can't help but feel a little bit embarrassed for him when he gets behind a lectern. OH man and now the spewing of rhetoric pertaining to enemies hating our freedom. Stop it already. They don't "hate our freedom" they hate you! Why don't people see through this?

long weekends

What I love about school is having a flexible schedule. I get a long weekend 3 weeks in a row. Veteran's day, the week after my department comes to a grinding halt with everyone away at the National Communication Assoc conference, then it's Thanksgiving. Yay! I'll be in SF this weekend and for Thanksgiving.

What I don't like about school scheduling is that next quarter I have the pleasure of 7 hours of back to back lectures 8:30am to 3:30pm no breaks. Doing 7 hours of any other work is normally tolerable but listening, learning, speaking, and taking notes for that many hours on end is no easy feat.

11.04.2006

snowboarding

A couple days ago before the rain started, I was smelling snow in the air. It shouldn't be long before we can hit the slopes and apparently the mountains are not very far away from the city in the Seattle area. It will be nice to have such easy access to mountains again. So Seattlites, which mountain is closest, and which is the best? I found this site but it only lists the distances for a couple of the mountains.

bowling

So last night I went bowling. I haven't bowled in probably about 7 years. I think last time I went was at Brentwood Lanes. I didn't bowl even once in California because we spent all our off hours at bars and I know I suck at bowling. Seeing as drinking often goes with bowling we probably should've gone more often. Last night was supposed to be dinner, couple drinks at my house and an early night but somehow my friend, who is here for a 5 month internship, and I ended up tagging along with another friend and his buddies who were planning on heading to Sunset Bowl in Ballard. This place is open 24 hours and it was packed. I, as predicted, bowled the lowest score, 78, and did not get even one strike or spare. Still, I was pretty happy with my score and realized that if you have had enough to drink bowling is pretty fun. I actually wouldn't mind going again and trying to break 100. They actually have a bowling alley at my school but they don't serve liquor there so that kinda defeats the purpose.

11.01.2006

rough

What do you do when you've had a long ass week, a midterm essay due, student stuff to grade, and two big final projects that need tending to really soon? You come home, have a beer and surf online for a fucking Christmas time vacation package. Can anyone suggest a good online travel agency other than Expedia and Orbitz? I'm thinking a South America adventure, someplace other than Mexico but maybe not quite overseas...

costume

For the first time in a long while I did not have a costume for Halloween. Actually I didn't really have a Halloween. No time, no money, nothing to do and several papers to write. Kinda sucks. I like Halloween too. There wasn't much going on at school either. I guess midterms and then getting drunk Halloween night is about all that is on the minds of the undergrads. I saw more staff/admin in costumes than I saw students. Best costume of the day was a woman's chihuahua with an awesome dinosaur costume made of green felt with big spikes all the way down the tail.

10.29.2006

shooting

So I tend to cite Gerbner's mean world syndrome and Cultivation Theory when people start worrying that it's not safe to walk alone, be out at night, drive alone etc etc. Last night I walked home down some dark streets alone and nothing happened to me and the chances of anything happening are not high.

However, that said, this kinda hits close to home. Two shootings on Greek Row at my university last night. Those hit were bystanders in their 20s, I'm guessing students.

I guess one could also say, it never hurts to take precautions. Maybe I should stop tempting fate and doing stuff like walking around in the dark by myself.

Asian groceries

Finally a place to buy Asian groceries north of Chinatown and south of Edmonds. I cannot wait until they open. I'm a little disappointed by the lack of places to buy Asian food, which I guess comes with the small Asian population here compared to Vancouver, BC or the SF Bay Area. I checked out this list and there's nothing near my home. I did find this listing online D Unik Gift Shoppe & Oriental Foods 18002 15th Avenue Northeast, Shoreline, WA 98155 but have yet to check that one out. I think my classmate mentioned that it's mostly south Asian food products though. I sure miss living a 1/2 mile from Ranch 99.

10.27.2006

history cont'd

So this piece of American culture is really interesting. Homecomings started in Illinois back in 1910 with a football game to bring back the alumni just as Robyn mentioned. Here's an essay about the history of homecoming in America (PDF file).

And the history behind frats and sororities? Here! and also here!

This is interesting
According to "The American Fraternity" an article written by Betty Mullins
Jones, the Greek association in fraternities and sororities comes from the fact
that all the early members studied Greek as an academic requirement.

10.25.2006

homecoming

Having never attended a big American university (they call it college for some reason), there are certain things I don't "get." I did my undergrad in Canada where college sports are not a big deal. They're not on the news and no one goes to watch unless you know someone on the team. Sororities and frats are also not as common and at my school not allowed. In general there are a lot of things that take place in American schools that are unheard of in Canada. I did my masters at an American state run comparatively low budget university where most students worked and commuted to school so there wasn't much of a big school atmosphere. So, things I don't get include definitions of words like "frosh" or "pledge." It wasn't until recently that I really understood what the heck a frat/sorority was about. To me it was an exclusive system of arbitrary friendships and a whole bunch of kids living in some gigantic house. Apparently I wasn't too far off but there are things like charity work and stuff that they take part in and the systems are entrenched in all this tradition etc etc. OK so I sort of get it and now I secretly want to take part in one of their little parties so I can say I did.

The other thing that is still a complete mystery to me is this whole idea of homecoming. Apparently this also happens in high schools. It's associated with a football game, marching bands (also uncommon in Canada), the crowning of a king/queen (in high school), and some sort of celebration. At UW there is a big banner announcing homecoming. There will be a rally, football game, "dawg" sled contest (students turning Costco shopping carts into dog sleds I think), scavenger hunt and a bunch of other activities. I really don't get it. Who is coming home and what the hell is being celebrated? What does football have to do with it and why do high schools crown a king and queen? Could you Americans enlighten me?

And how come we don't get to do all this fun celebratory stuff in Canada? Schooling seems so much less eventful there. The only fun thing I remember was Finals Fantasy parties but those were not hosted by the school. UBC's departmental beer gardens and outdoor concerts were pretty cool though.

10.24.2006

continued

I guess there is a Vanessa Au down in LA. Continuation of the email guessing saga. Last message below from Hong.
Thanks for the clarification. I'm sure you are really fun to hang out
with too. I guess I'll have to find the other Vanessa Au to trash the
mansion with. If you are ever in town to party, just holler.Peace.
It sure pays off to secure a good email address early.

10.23.2006

guessing emails

I wish I had a little more creativity in me to mess with this guy (not in a sinister way). I think some guy had met someone with my name or a similar name and was email guessing when he sent this. The opportunity was so rich but this is all I could come up with. Lame. I should've attached a photo of someone really hot and claimed it was me or critiqued his approach or continued the dialog with an excited "hell yeah, you're so hot" (okay not the latter, that would fall under "sinister").
Hi Vanessa. Just wondering if you have any plans this Saturday night?
I had two tickets to this Halloween party that is being put on by my UCLA
MBA friend at some mansion atop somewhere in West LA. I didn't go last
year because of other commitments, but I heard it was really fun dressing up
and trashing some strangers house!! So let me know if you are interested.
I'd think it would be fun to hang out with you. Thanks. Hong

----------

Hi

I think you have emailed the wrong gal. While I believe I am fun to hang out with and would love to party in West LA, I live in Seattle and I'm pretty sure I've never met you before in my entire life.

Good luck tracking down the right Vanessa and scoring a date with her!

cheers,
vanessa

found

So a friend of mine found a wallet laying on the street with $700 cash and no ID inside. This leads me to wonder (1) who the heck carries that much money? (2) why would the ID be missing and not the cash?

I'm not the type to find things like that. Pennies don't count. I saw a quarter today when I was getting off the bus but didn't pick it up because I didn't want to get trampled by the people behind me. And for some reason having lucky things happen to me always makes me worry that it'll balance out with bad luck, like getting hit by a car or something. That reminds me of some news I read today. A fire truck was putting out a car fire on the I-5 when some jack ass drove into the fire truck. You know, big huge vehicle with bright flashing lights. Another version of the story I read noted that drugs and alcohol are suspected. Gee really?

10.22.2006

fusion

4 of my favourite friends came down from Vancouver this weekend which means lots of shopping, drinking and eating. We joined a birthday party of my friend's coworker that started at Wild Ginger and ended at Trinity club. So Wild Ginger is some fancy pants restaurant that is supposedly quite popular in Seattle. With reservations, they seated us 45 minutes late. The food was OK but it's hard for someone who is Asian to really appreciate the whole fusion thing. The guy spent FOREVER explaining a garlic green beans dish that I can make in a couple minutes in my sleep. The chicken was overcooked, scallops too oily and too peppery, and the place was just full of pretentious Marina District type folks. And simple stirfry dishes should cost $5-8, not $20-something. When a white man serves it in some upscale lookin' restaurant (where tea ain't free) and takes a couple minutes to describe each dish (like that sommelier mofo in last season's Top Chef) those stirfries suddenly cost three times as much. The most memorable part of the dinner was when the waiter cleared all our dishes, nicked the tray on a pillar and all the plates came crashing to the floor. He got a huge round of applause and a couple standing ovations. Trinity was alright. Generally I'm sick of and too old for clubbing but it was nice to get out, see friends and pound back some drinks. Paid for it today though.

In other news the usual blaring of punk music on Sunday afternoons has stopped. I guess management gave them a warning...or they're out of town.

10.20.2006

disconnect

The only thing that pains me more than poor student performance on an assignment is that student thinking s/he did an outstanding job. To use a rude, cruel, and entirely inappropriate analogy, it's kinda like when a woman who is a little on the chunky side wears tight low rider jeans and a baby tee, producing a large "muffin top" that spills out between the two articles of clothing and thinks it's all very flattering on her. Where is the disconnect? Is ignorance bliss? Ah crap. Now I feel guilty I wrote that. Bah, whatever. I'm tired and have way too much shit to get done. I wish there were such a thing as speed reading and that I had that ability. (I think it's bullshit) One day I will come up with a bullshit seminar on a DVD on how to do something that makes no sense and then retire rich.

10.16.2006

fucking neighbours

Dear Management,

I live in apartment #*** and I am writing to complain about loud music coming from the apartment below me. The tenants in that apartment regularly play loud punk music for several hours at a time in the early evening on weekdays and during the day some weekends. It is loud enough that I can identify the song and sometimes even make out the lyrics. The bass from their music vibrates the floor of my apartment and can sometimes be felt on surfaces of our furniture (such as a desk). I am a Phd student and my roommate is studying for her MBA and the music is extremely distracting when we are trying to study. I have on several occasions pounded on the floor to communicate that they need to turn it down but I don’t think they can hear me with the volume turned up that high. I do not, for reasons pertaining to personal safety, wish to confront the tenants directly. Please issue these tenants a noise warning.

Sincerely,
Vanessa Au

10.15.2006

real northwest

My parents drove down to visit for the weekend. We spent yesterday touring the Fremont neighbourhood of Seattle (the self-proclaimed "center of the universe") where we had a delicious meal at Jai Thai, visited the troll under the Aurora bridge, and checked out the statue of Lenin. It got damn cold out. After that we walked through Pike Place Market which is a huge maze, then I took them on a long tour of the UW campus. Luckily we were finished with the walk and safely inside Target by the time it started to rain. And rain it did. We headed home where I made a quick chicken, onion, napa cabbage and celery stirfry for dinner. I put on the Constant Gardener for them (which I've seen and loved) so I could get the rest of my grading done. Hooray for long movies. If I had Lord of the Rings at hand (they'd hate it) maybe I could've finished my paper too.

Today fog rolled in to join the rain and it really started to feel like the Pacific Northwest. All the sunshine the past month was a little disguise that Mother Nature put on to help me adjust to living here I think. And for that I thank her. Today we headed out to Big Lots for some guaranteed good bargains and then over to Nordstrom Rack for one more attempt to buy shoes in the tiny size that my mother wears. By comparison I have rather long feet for my height. My feet would've made me rather unpopular a few generations ago in China but here and now they keep me from falling over (sometimes). Parents made it back to Coquitlam in record time ~ 2.5 hours while my roomate and her boyfriend made the reverse trip in 4 hours thanks to a 1.5 hour wait southbound at the border while customs searched people's trunks.

Back to writing my paper. It's dark and wet out and I can hear the cars and buses sloshing through puddles on the pavement. Sounds just like Vancouver. Hopefully the weather helps me to stay indoors and focussed on school. If it begins to have adverse effects I will be making a little appointment with that light box at the counseling center for people suffering from seasonal affective disorder.

10.13.2006

johari

Link borrowed from Syndromes. Some sort of personality - how you see yourself vs. how people see you kinda thing... http://kevan.org/johari?name=vanessaau

10.12.2006

bus

Now that I'm a daily user of the bus system here, I've noticed a few things:
  • bus drivers here are exceptionally friendly
  • 90% (by my estimate) of people thank the bus driver when exiting
  • if a bus is full of people, it will drive right by you
  • there will always be teenagers on buses who deliberately speak much louder than is necessary to communicate with the friend sitting next to them
  • there will always be riders who have very personal conversations on their cell phones and it's rather hard not to eavesdrop (because it's interesting to hear about why she broke up with her boyfriend and how he keeps calling her)
  • the bus driver has to manually open the back door and sometime s/he forgets and you have to yell "back door please"
  • sitting in the seat where you ride sideways gives me motion sickness
  • I can only read for about 10 minutes before I start to feel motion sick
  • only the seat nearest the window has a rail to rest your feet on
  • there is a fare free zone downtown which means you tend to get several homeless people getting aboard just for the hell of it
  • bus drivers are not allowed to help people using wheel chairs to back into the space reserved for them (even if the rider is drunk and uncoordinated and it takes him damn near 10 minutes to figure it out)

10.10.2006

coffee crisp

This will be the first and only time I'll add a link to Fox News without prefacing it with disparaging remarks. So here it is (thanks to Enlai). Coffee Crisp will be sold here soon. It's not my favourite chocolate bar from Canada though. I much prefer the Aero Bar, Oh Henry, Caramilk and the Canadian version of KitKat which is much more creamy, less sweet and less waxy which seems the case for all our chocolate when compared to the disgustingly sweet wax-textured American chocolate (with the exception of maybe Dove and Ghirardelli). Here is a link to more Canada only products. I've had Cadbury bars from the UK and they taste even creamier than those from Canada.

10.07.2006

border

I have learned in the month that I've lived here that being so close to the Canadian border has an effect on the people and media here. And it's a good thing. First, people here say pop and not soda. I had never gotten used to saying soda in California because to me soda is just fizzy water. Boy was I relieved when I heard a bunch of people say pop machine and another student confirmed that, yes, pop is the term of choice in these parts. Second, sometimes local media here think of British Columbians as one of them. For example on Evening Magazine (a local news magazine show) the host interviewed an actor from Kelowna, BC who stars in Friday Night Lights and told the actor that Seattle considers him one of their own. Maybe it's because there aren't many actors coming out of Seattle to interview, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they are doing it as a friendly gesture. Third, there is a curling club near my home. Like the whole rink is just for curling. I know Americans are getting pretty good at the sport but I have never before seen a curling rink in the US with my own eyes. Fourth, the local KING5 news includes NHL action in its sports news coverage. That almost caused me to fall on the floor. But the best is that with my limited cable package I get CBUT, aka CBC Television, which means I get to watch HOCKEY without driving 2.5 hours home!

In other news, I ran into preppy asshole again in the elevator, twice this week. Tonight he looked at my SFU sweatshirt and the conversation went like this:

preppy asshole: SFU, what's that stand for?
me: Simon Fraser University
preppy asshole: Where's that?
me: Just north of the border. You've never heard of it? I thought most people around here have.
preppy asshole: [snarky grunt] I'm just not that into colleges. I dropped out. So yeah, I'm just not into the college thing. [exits elevator]

Man that khakis-and-golf-shirt-wearing Democrat-hating mother fucker is really getting on my nerves. At the same time I'm really curious as to what he does for a living and why lives in an area like Lake City (which I've decided is a cross between Surrey (not the nice parts) and downtown New Westminster, with a hint of East Vancouver).

media

The last month or so has been some sort of horrible unintended social science experiment called deprive Vanessa of all media. My roomate was in charge of getting the Internet and cable set up and for whatever reason it just never got done. It was kind of a combination of Comcast messing up and lack of follow up on her part *sigh*. Finally Comcast came today and the technician happened to have a DIY Internet install kit in her truck so I am all set up now. Alas, I can watch something other than fuzzy NBC and blog and surf and check email from home. It's been weird coming home and not having anything to do other than cook, clean, and read. Granted I got a hell of a lot of homework done so I think I should learn from this experience by keeping the TV off once in a while and maybe turning off the wifi when I'm writing a paper.

9.28.2006

finger

So apparently athletic folks have a longer ring finger than index finger. Mine is but I wonder if they can actually use this to predict athletic ability. One can always draw out themes after the fact.

I have one more class to attend tomorrow that I haven't yet been to. The rest have been great including the two sections of public speaking that I teach. I lucked out with students who so far seem interested, enthusiastic, and courteous.

I am looking forward to seeing Simon and heading to Vancouver this weekend for a wedding, while dreading the hours I won't be able to spend getting the hundreds of pages of reading I need to do. I could probably get more done if the asshole living downstairs would turn down his fucking stereo. He has not responded to my pounding on the floor with my fist. At least he doesn't do this late into the night. I'll give him that much.

9.26.2006

shipping

Shipping things here it turns out is a complete nightmare. I had a port replicator coming via Fedex but since the idiots who work in the office of my apartment are never around (they're usually at the other property or just out on super long breaks) my package failed to be delivered 3 times. That means they want you to go pick up your package. Back in Foster City, that was fine. I made a 20 minute drive up to South San Fran and got my stuff. Here, the Fedex warehouse is in fucking Auburn. That is past Seatac, past Renton, past Kent a good 35 miles from my home. In fact, Auburn is not too far off from Tacoma. So I called Fedex to beg them to give me more options and ended up asking them to send my package to my school's department office. A totally big huge no no but when you freakin don't know anyone in this city, you don't have much choice. I emailed our administrator to beg forgiveness which she granted this one time. So hopefully I get my port replicator tomorrow.

OK. So now onto the mattress from JCPenney. We ordered them about 2 weeks ago and they contract a trucking company to deliver them. It took them the full 2 week window to give us a ship date. So they get here and the trucker guy looks all apologetic and waves for me to come to the truck. He explains that the mattresses came in some shitty wrapping all torn up and sort of taped up when they arrived from the JCPenney warehouse in Reno or something. The mattresses are all dirty where the tears are and he asked if I want to keep them. I decided to have him bring them up and so I can complain later. I did this knowing that companies have these stupid policies about customers paying to return merchandise regardless of reason. And the return in this case would cost a hundred bucks. I'm really pissed at JC Penney.

Oh and to top off my day, some preppy asshole gets on the elevator while we're loading up the mattresses and scoffs at the mail he's picked up from his mailbox. "Ugh" he exclaims, "junk mail from the Democrats. I never vote Democrat" and makes a dramatic motion to throw it into the recycling bin. Well I guess I know not to trash W in any small talk with that guy.

9.24.2006

Saturday adventure

Determined to make the most of this weekend's sunshine, I started my day with a quick drive to Greenlake for a run. It's funny how, when you see an entire 2.8-mile path right before your eyes it looks more like 10. But when you actually run it, you get around the lake pretty quick. Despite minor dehydration from the 3 pints of beer I had last night at the grad pub run, and having to dodge (many really cute) dogs, strollers, and idiots walking side by side 4 abreast, I finished one loop in 31 minutes. I counted a bunch of people who lapped me but, whatever, I've never claimed to be any good at running. My roomate told me that there is a ring of thieves in Greenlake who collaborate with those who live nearby to spot runners stashing their wallets in their cars, for example under the seat, and immediately move in to break into that car. Doesn't sound like an unlikely circumstance but I'm sure when something like that happens, the story is told and retold and one incident becomes an epidemic. But better safe than sorry, I try never to bring my entire wallet when I'm parking my car to go for a run.

I spent the rest of the day downtown checking out the Central Library and it is really as amazing in person as it is in the photos on the web site. Did some reading in preparation for the class I have to teach, picked up a couple DVDs and headed back home. I watched one of them tonight,
Aishite imasu (Mahal kita) 1941. It was awesome and deserved every festival nomination it got. The story had incredible depth and complexity as did the actors. I wouldn't even know where to start in explaining it so read this instead. Such a nice change of pace from the Hollywood special effects driven America-centered trash.

9.21.2006

weekend plans

Last weekend before classes start and I was planning to drive home for the weekend but decided against it because I really need to hunker down and prep for the quarter. Instead my plans include: join the other grad students for drinks on Friday (and trying not to drown my anxieties in beer), finish reading one of the books for one of my classes (there are 4 more to read for that one class and I need a head start), do preliminary research for my papers, review all my teaching materials, course syllabi, and handouts, cook a dish for Monday's dep't potluck, draft a plan of study (all the courses I need to take to complete the Phd), go for a run around Greenlake, visit the beautiful Seattle Library (you have to see the photos on that site), and check out the UW gym since parking will be free. That seems plenty to keep me busy.

I just got back from a 3 mile jog. The sun comes out to say hi in between rain showers so I had to take the opportunity to get out for some air. Oh yeah, with some oil of oregano, many cups of orange juice, and lots of sleep over two days, I managed to kick the cold that was coming on. Hopefully I can go another year or two, illness free.

9.20.2006

Michigan

Thanks to Robyn for this link. Minority Groups Protest ‘Catch an Illegal Immigrant Day’ on Michigan Campus (Maya are you reading this, omg!). I have to say I'm happy that I was accepted to a school in a left leaning city. I think something like that happening on my campus would really mess up my focus. I'd be out protesting and organizing and not reading, researching or writing. It's been hard to put away my activist urges to get out and help with or start a campaign in order to focus on me and my education, but in my mind, I'll be more credible and a more powerful activist if I can devote more energy to my schooling first. Hopefully when this Phd gig gets a little more familiar, I can put in a bit of time with the activist folks (*waving hello to Kai*).

So it's Wednesday today and my reliable borrowing of wifi from a neighbour has become very spotty. In fact this is my first time online from home in 48 hours and it's killing me. We signed up for Comcast 3 weeks ago, before we moved in, and they still havent come back with the DIY install kit. The mattresses we ordered online 9/14 from JCPenney, which were in stock, still have not arrived. I'm getting pretty sick of sleeping on this gigantic air mattress that takes up all the floor space in my rather small room. TA training this week has been fantastic, organized, all of that good stuff. School in general has so far been smooth sailing. That's of course because it hasn't started. I still have orientation (dep't specific) until next Monday and classes start Wednesday. Because I'll be teaching two quiz sections of 20 students each, I'm starting to wonder if I need to make my online presence a little less....out there. But the more I think about it, the more I think I shouldn't. I don't post anything overly personal and I don't talk trash about people in my life, so if students find my blog or web site, they'll just learn more about me as a person rather than a teacher and maybe see me as more human. Anyone out there have any advice?

9.18.2006

shopping

In just one week I have managed to furnish the whole apartment and did I ever get some great deals. My finds on Craigslist:

Ikea MALM 3 drawer dresser $60
lamp, 3 wicker storage baskets, 2 large scented candles in jars, 1 toaster $35
3 Ikea LACK side tables $18
Ikea POANG chair and ottoman $25
bookshelf $20
microwave/toaster oven combo $35 (purchased after I got the toaster above)
4 Ikea HERMAN chairs $20 (for all 4)
Ikea dining table with frosted glass insert $50

Other new but still cheap purchases

full mattress $209 (incl delivery) JCPenney online
Ikea desk $129
Ikea ANEBODA bed $109
Ikea KULLEN night stand $29
Ikea table top + legs to make a low coffee table $23
Ikea LACK coffee table (used as TV stand) $29.99
really cool modern lamp that I've seen for hundreds of dollars $39.99 from Fred Meyer
Ikea laundry hamper $3.99
foldaway stool $12.99

I have become an expert in Ikea furniture assembly and have also learned the art of stud finding, drilling, and hanging stuff on drywall without a stud.

This week I'm in training to become an expert TA! The sunshine finally went to sleep and it's grey skies and showers this week but the rain here is different than in Vancouver. It comes and goes and sometimes the skies clear. Whereas in Vancouver, the rain comes and sticks around for about hmm 3-5 months.

9.13.2006

Seattle sightseeing

So the remainder of my trip north from Foster City, CA to Seattle was uneventful unless you count major traffic in Tacoma as an event. So I checked in Friday afternoon with a third leasing manager on this property. Luckily she was the best one yet. She was even more careful with my move in damage inspection than I was. After that was all done, I decided we deserved to spend the rest of the weekend doing minimal move in work and, instead, enjoying the beautiful weather. I decided that, even though I'm not all that familiar with Seattle, I'd use my Internet research skills to play tour guide for the weekend. All in all I'd have to say I did a pretty good job.

That night we headed to the pier and discovered that the highly recommended Crab Pot had no wait. I knew it'd be good because I'd heard all about it from friends. We got in, they put bibs on us, rolled out a sheet of paper on the table and brought us mallets. Before long the waiter came with a huge pot of crab, mussels, clams, corn, shrimp and dumped it on the table. And yup we finished the whole thing. It was AWESOME. We spent the rest of the night roaming Bell Town and the shopping area downtown before heading home to crash. Saturday I took Simon around Green Lake, drove through Fremont and Wallingford, and then stopped at the Ballard Locks to watch the salmon jump out of the water and swim upstream. After that we had to head back home to help my roomate's sister move in some of her stuff. The stolen shopping carts in our garage sure made that an easy task. Still, we celebrated that feat with yet another huge pot of seafood, this time at The Fisherman's Restaurant. After having tried both restaurants, I'd have to say the Crab Pot was the clear winner.

Sunday was a lot of fun. We started with drive to Capitol Hill to visit Bruce Lee's grave then headed over to Pioneer Square to go on the $11 90-minute Underground Tour. Most city tours I know are kinda corny and stupid but this one came highly recommended and I have to say it was one of the best city tours I've gone on. It starts out with a comedic, yet thorough, 25 minute history lesson followed by a tour of the buildings still left under Seattle's streets. If you want to know why there's a city below the streets you'll have to take the tour. I don't want to spoil it. After the tour finished, we headed over to Alki Beach (good suggestion Egan) which is pronounced alk-eye, not alkee as I learned on my last visit. It was nice and toasty in the sun so we sat on a park bench and watched folks play football and volleyball in the sand. We even saw one crazy guy jump into the frigid Puget Sound waters for a swim. We dined at Coyote's on Alki that night. They forgot to bring Simon's drink even after one reminder, the food was mediocre, and service was very very slow. They never did bring out Simon's drink. Oh well, whatever.

So Monday was errand day. Picked up a lamp and some stuff from a Craigslist seller, visited the Telenav Seattle office, went to IKEA, had dinner with a friend, and spent the rest of the evening putting together furniture. Since then I've been constructing furniture and shopping for household stuff non-stop. Rest of the week will be spent getting this apartment furnished and orderly so I can start focussing on school.

Alrighty, time to get back to unpacking. Sorry I have no photos to show. My card reader went missing in the process of moving :(

9.09.2006

made it

No accidents, no speeding tickets and only one traffic jam in Tacoma. Here safe and sound, thanks for all the comments everyone. Lucky Simon has this handy Sprint thingy majajig to get online without wifi. After unpacking we headed downtown for a well deserved dinner at Crab Pots and a walk through Bell Town. Now I'm exhausted and have to hit the sack, I mean air mattress. Will post more probably on Tuesday.

9.08.2006

part way there

After a few drinks and a ride on Bucky the mechanical bull last night (45 seconds yeehaw!) we got home kinda late which means we got up kinda late and didn't get packed and on the road until 12.30 today. Packing the car was the hardest part and I had to leave behind 4 boxes, a chair, a lamp and 3 reams of paper. Oh well. Guess I was being optimistic. We stopped in Fairfield for lunch, some place in northern Cali for gas (holy cow was it ever hot up there), Target in Medford to pick up some small but expensive stuff like power tools, DVD player, and electric toothbrush, all tax free, and one more stop to switch drivers before reaching Eugene at 10pm. We checked in and had no choice but to eat at the Lucky Noodle. Expensive fusion but not bad. So I'm back in the hotel now. Time to hit the sack and get ready for another 4-5 hour drive.

9.06.2006

tomorrow

I hate packing. The only thing less fun is unpacking. Anyways, I managed to pack up most of what's mine in preparation for the big road trip tomorrow. The plan is to spend 8 or 9 hours on the road and stop off in Eugene to spend a night. A lot of people do this drive in one solid 12-13 hours (16 to make it all the way to Vancouver) but since we wouldn't arrive when the leasing office is open anyways we decided to split it up into 8 hours first day and 4 hours Friday. My short term concern is making everything fit into my car, after that I'm worried about people breaking into it and stealing all I got. Fingers crossed that this whole move, which has not been without its complications thus far, goes off without a hitch.

Tonight I'll be out for a drink at Old Pro, one of my favorite bars. They are newly renovated and I'm looking forward to trying out Bucky the mechanical bull.

9.05.2006

image consultant

So I just finished creating a little web site in an "exchange of services" for a fellow Toastmaster who is also an image consultant. I created the site and in return she has created a style portfolio for me. Yay! I would never otherwise be able to afford the luxury of an image consultant. Now I just need to find her a suitable domain since anything that looks remotely like her company name is taken. Check it out http://www.vanessaau.com/joann/index.html

Too many things to do, no packing getting done here. Dammit.

last few days

Today I returned my library books to SFSU and headed up to Mach III to get my alarm looked at. I still had a receipt from my car's previous owner dated April 1997 which is when the alarm was originally installed. Yah, that's 9 years ago. The guys told me to head down to Faxon Garage where their friends handle the installations. They took my car right away. I went down to Java on Ocean to get a caramel machiatto and make a few calls to confirm my move in date up in Seattle. By the time I got back, my alarm was fixed. I mentioned that the stupid alarm used to lock me out because it locked itself after a few seconds. I also have this tacky scanner thing on my windshield (think KIT from Knight Rider) from the previous owner that looked like it drained my battery. He said he could switch it out for a little LED light and take another look at the auto-locking issue. That took about 40 minutes. Total damage = $0 for fixing my non-working alarm, $30 to rip out the scanner and put in a little LED. That is what I call good business. I didn't expect them to charge me nothing even though they installed it originally. I mean 9 years is an awfully long time. I expected to at least pay for labour but I didn't have to. So yeah, if you need a mechanic, alarm install, rims, stereo system etc, go see these guys.

9.03.2006

geography

So my roomate and I were granted a conditional approval of our lease application because she'll be a full time MBA on a student loan, ie no income, and my income will not be 3x our total rent. Leasing manager 1 promised that this problem would be solved simply by paying first and last month's rent up front. However she only works weekends so we've have to deal with leasing manager 2 on the weekdays. #2 has demanded that we find a cosigner for the lease, someone who meets all the requirements of making more than 3x rent. Pain in the ass I tell you. I hate managed properties but we have no choice at this point. So anyways, my conversation with her went like this:

Vanessa: My cosigner is my dad who is in Vancouver BC. Can I have you fax him the form and I'll pay the application fee by check which I'll pop in the mail?

#2: Vancouver BC. That's in Canada right?

Vanessa: Uh yes (I'm thinking at this point, how the hell can you NOT know this if you live 2 hours from the border???)

#2: Is Canada part of the United States? 'Cause we can't verify information unless they're in the United States

Vanessa: [long pause and stifled laughter] Did you just ask.... Um, no [more stifled giggling] Canada is not part of the United States.

#2: Oh yeah (trying to sound smart) I didn't think so. He can't be a co-signer then.

So I've heard stories like this from other people about Americans really uh... not all there when it comes to geography. I had another friend tell a DMV agent that he had driver's license in Ontario, Canada. The agent asked him, "Is Canada in the US?". My friend responded no. The agent didn't believe him so she turned around to ask her manager for verification. The manager didn't even flinch. It was as if that were a pretty typical question to ask over at the DMV. How does one graduate from high school without knowing which large masses of land are part of your country, and which are not? I don't get it. I guess that's why the Talking to Americans segment of This Hour has 22 Minutes is such a huge hit.

Anyways, out of boredom I decided to learn a little bit more about the area I'll be moving to. This is what my search turned up. Perverts breaking into women's homes and climbing into their beds naked before escaping with bags of their underwear. Awesome. I can't wait.

8.29.2006

bachelor party

A friend is helping to plan a bachelor party in Vancouver and solicited my help. Figured I'd share the info with all the rest of you. I'm not much help in the nightclub area as I never go to these places anymore when I go visit (except for Red Room and that place that used to have '80s night). BTW, in Canada we sometimes call bachelor/bachelorette parties stags and stagettes respectively.

Nightclubs
As I mentioned Vancouver thinks it's LA or some shit so every club deliberately jacks up cover and holds a line outside to make it look good (even if it's empty inside). Best to call ahead and get on the VIP/bottle service or your whole party will stand in line the entire night, I'm not joking.

My friend recommended these two. Granville is a good place to keep the party because most nightclubs are there, there's 99 cent pizza to eat afterwards, and if you get bored with a venue, you can always ditch the club and hit the bars and pubs on that street.

Caprice - on Granville Street - http://www.capricenightclub.com/
Plaza - on Granville Street - http://www.plazaclub.net/

Tokyo lounge is not bad either but not as big www.tokyolounge.ca/ -- it's off robson street
Atlantis www.atlantisclub.net/ used to be pretty popular and might still be but if you get bored there's not much else in walking distance. Au Bar was hot for a while too http://www.straight.com/content.cfm?id=10746 it's not too far from Granville Street.

I'd also recommend going to this site to see what is happening the night of the party http://www.clubvibes.com/ and then calling ahead to book VIP and bottle service. You can also read the club's description at http://www.straight.com/section.cfm?id=270

Warning, take a cab. Aside from being the responsible thing to do, cops always form "road blocks" so that every artery leading out of downtown has cops stopping EVERY car to check for drunk drivers. You basically can't avoid it unless you hit an afterparty and go home the next morning. Another warning, Vancouver has been notorious for club shootings. Be careful.

Restaurants (good seafood, some with beautiful view) I listed what I think would be best up top.

Bridges http://www.dinehere.ca/restaurant.asp?r=165 (awesome view from granville island with outdoor patio)
C Restaurant - http://www.10best.com/Vancouver/Restaurants/Seafood/index.html?businessID=30756 (also nice view)
The Boathouse Restaurant English Bay http://www.boathouserestaurants.ca/2004/english_bay.htm (view of English Bay)
Monk McQueens http://www.monkmcqueens.com/ (well known place)
Carderos http://www.dinehere.ca/restaurant.asp?r=618 (I think i've been here but cant remember)
Lumiere http://lumiere.ca/ (maybe a bit too stuffy snotty for a bachelor party?)

Also consult the 2006 Golden Plate Awards
http://www.straight.com/content.cfm?id=16704

Nudie Bars

Brandi's - "classy" place http://www.clubzone.com/c/Vancouver/Adult_Club/Brandi_z_s_Exotic_Nightclub.html
Cecil - off Granville walking distance to clubs http://www.clubzone.com/c/Vancouver/Adult_Club/Cecil_Hotel,_The.html
Marble Arch - great for cheap lunch too. 518 Richards St. 688-ARCH
Number 5 Orange - super ghetto part of town in the east end by Chinatown where I hear the strippers are the raunchiest 205 Main St.687-FIVE

Also see http://www.walnet.org/csis/services/vanstripclubs.html

Survivor

Oh my god, you idiots. Are you fucking kidding me? How much more stupid could a reality show really get? http://www.nydailynews.com/front/story/447377p-376563c.html

8.27.2006

no more MLMs

I just a message via MySpace (ugh) from a former student (God I hate MySpace) inviting me to a conference call/meeting. Man I could smell something fishy going on right away.This is the third person in the last year to try to get me into their multi-level marketing "success plan". Frankly I'm sick of it. Please people, stop inviting me to your conference calls, lunch meetings, cocktail parties to tell me about how I can make tonnes of money if I just work hard enough (at scamming all my friends and family). I don't want to hear about it, and I don't want my friends to hear about it either.

Here's my letter back to the student:

Hi ______,

Couple links you'll probably want to read. I have a couple friends who got involved in a similar business model and to put it bluntly none of their friends want to hang out with them anymore because they keep using every social situation to "share stories of success" with friends and friends of those friends and pull them into the organization. It's gotten to the point that it's embarrassing to invite them out. Just letting you know this could be a slippery slope. Even if you do somehow end up making money, it's at the expense of annoying and potentially losing your friends.

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/federal_ct/2005/276.html (scroll down for the law suit details)
http://users.tns.net/~mpat/scam/
http://arbyte.us/blog_archive/2005/04/ACN_Pyramid_Scam.html
http://www.scam.com/showthread.php?t=4418

8.25.2006

Dear United

After losing my luggage, United has screwed up my delivery address 3 times - San Ysodro, San Ysdoro, Sansierro. It's San Ysidro, just like I wrote in block letters you fucking idiots. And it shouldn't take 3 days to get me my damn luggage back.

Below was the letter I wrote on Monday, followed by the letter I wrote today.

Dear United,

Yesterday (Sunday) I flew from Seattle to San Francisco on flight 571. I checked in one bag and it did not arrive in San Francisco with me. I filed a claim at SFO and found out that the agent in Seattle made the mistake of being logged into the profile of the passenger who was in line ahead of me when he checked my bag in.

I was appalled to find that the claim sticker they gave me read “Sarah Roberts.” This Sarah Roberts was to continue from SFO onto San Diego and so that is where my bag is now. I am absolutely outraged that a mistake like this could happen. Even the agent in SFO with whom I filed the claim commented, “Pretty scary how something like this could happen huh?” Yeah, it’s scary alright. Especially since my bag contains my medication, eye glasses, and file of important documents containing very personal information. That file included a lease application with all my banking, credit, and social security information – plenty to get someone started on stealing my ID. Lest I mention that the lease application was due TODAY for an apartment that I spent the weekend in Seattle looking for. So now I’m without my glasses, medication and now overdue lease application.

The agent in SFO, who did not once utter an apology, processed my application and promised that my bags be delivered to my office by noon today. It’s 3pm now. I logged in on your web site and it says “Unfortunately, your baggage has not been located. However, we do have it on priority trace. We apologize for any inconvenience we may be causing you. Please check back with us in a few hours for any updated information.”

But that’s not the worst of it. From the web page I could see that the agent at SFO had entered my office address incorrectly. Of course that doesn’t matter much when my bag is still lost in San Diego, but it certainly doesn’t give me any more faith in United Airlines’ ability to serve its customers.

Let’s sum this up. My bag was checked in under another passenger’s name. That passenger went to San Diego, as did my suitcase. My suitcase was not delivered by noon as promised because it’s still lost. I check online and my delivery address was entered incorrectly by a very unapologetic and incompetent agent. Now by the time the bag is located and delivered I probably will not be at this address (I’ll be at home) and I will have to contact United once again to reroute the shipping of my bag. If I don’t I will miss two days of medication, endure navigating my house in the evening without my glasses, and possibly lose the apartment I spent my weekend in Seattle looking for. For this, United has promised me a $25 travel certificate. The inconvenience and time this has cost me is worth far more than $25. I am requesting more compensation than a laughable $25. That hardly makes up for the time I spent just waiting in line to file a claim at SFO late on a Sunday night.

Sincerely,

fumbling

And today's letter:

Dear Levi,

I finally got my luggage back Wednesday afternoon 23rd Aug, three days after it was lost Sunday night the 20th. While I appreciate the travel certificate I am still concerned about what was done with the contents of my bag while it was gone for three days.

When I checked in my bag I had hastily stuffed a file with all my apartment hunting/lease application documents into my suitcase. When I got it back, I noticed this file was neatly tucked into the strap inside my suitcase. This is not where I had left it. The reason for my concern is that those documents, as I mentioned earlier, contain very personal information including:

- My social security number
- Account numbers for all my bank accounts
- Driver's license number
- License plate number
- Phone numbers and addresses of all places I've lived the last three years
- My parents' and my landlord's contact information
- My birthdate
- My income

I am extremely concerned about who might have seen/copied that information since my bag was left unsupervised in a public place for 3 days. Even if it had been held in a locked area by United (which I doubt since the last customer service rep I spoke to had to call the San Diego Airport Tuesday just to track down the whereabouts of my bag), I'd still be concerned about my files having been moved and people, including United employees, viewing/stealing my information. As I hope you understand identity theft is a very real and very serious issue and such instances of theft are common and often ruin the lives of those victimized. Other companies who put their customers at risk of identity theft commonly compensate by issuing a year or more of credit monitoring services. I am requesting the same of United and expect that, as a company that strives to take care of its customers, United will comply. I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

fumbling

8.23.2006

luck or lack thereof

Does anybody believe in luck? We had endless lucky things happen during our Seattle housing search on the weekend. Someone's denied rental application meant an opening for us before the place even went on the market. All our timing worked out perfectly. But at the end of the trip Sunday night my luck ran out when United lost my suitcase. I still haven't gotten it back. I posted on it earlier but I took it down and will repost with more details when this ordeal is over. Let's just say I've been on the phone with United 5 times in the past 48 hours and all they've done is screw it up more each time I call by doing things like trying to correct an incorrect delivery address by making it even MORE incorrect if you can believe it.

I'm so fed up with them. And while I see the need for outsourcing in many situations and fully support the wonderful people overseas who do this work, it really doesn't work for some things. Helping people get their luggage back is one of those things. The folks there can do nothing more than read a computer screen that I can log into myself and then read a script about being sorry for my inconvenience. It's an endless loop that got me nowhere. They don't have local knowledge and are not instructed/allowed to do proactive things like contact the airport directly to track down my bag. After my first 3 customer support calls my calls got routed to someone local. I wonder if that is by design. The last woman I spoke to actually did call the airport where my bag is sitting so hopefully I get it back tomorrow and I'll share my whole ordeal. Let's just say, I'll never fly United again if I can help it. It's been human error after human error and it's simply unacceptable.

In other news, we were witness to a car accident today at Central and Castro in Mountain View en route to Maruichi for my favourite ramen. This white minivan with an elderly couple was stopped at a red light, right next to us. This junky car came careening down the street and rear ended the minivan. The guy barely hit the brakes. The shitbox was pretty much totaled with smoke and water spewing out of his crumpled hood. The scary part was that the guy got out of his car and at first I thought he was dazed from hitting the minivan but I don't think that was it. His shirt was half untucked, the other half tucked into his belt which had missed about 4 belt loops. He seemed sort of unstable, the kind of unstable that most people demonstrate after about 6 or 7 drinks. The man stumbled up to the minivan and attempted to open the rear door to climb into the elderly couple's back seat. I think all of us in the car said, almost in unison, what the fuck?? Luckily the door was locked and so he walked up to the driver's side window which the woman wisely kept partially closed. We looped the car around and I ran up to the van to give them a business card in case they needed a witness to the accident. I heard the guy who hit them say, "oh thank you thank you." I'm thinkin' don't thank me, I'm here to back up the old couple who just got rammed in the ass by you, you crazy fuck.

8.21.2006

Seattle pics


View of the Space Needle from my roommate's friend's gorgeous place in Queen Anne


Coffee in West Seattle at a place specializing in cupcakes. What you see there is a "baby cake"


View of Lake Washington from our table at the Blu Water Cafe in Leschi (pronounced Lesh-EYE)


The place we put a deposit on ($1K for a 2/2 with a w/d and 2 garage parking spots, can't beat that)


View of yet another body of water (so many I can't keep track of them all) from the I-5 en route to SeaTac Airport

8.16.2006

photos

Been waiting for Simon to leave work and it's meant getting home midnight the last two nights. Too tired to write but not too tired to drag and drop. Check out the new photos in my Flickr.

8.14.2006

out of state move

I'm learning quickly that looking for a new place to live is only fun when you're moving someplace within driving distance. This out of state home hunt is killing me. People who live in Seattle are beating me to open house viewings and I'm leaving myself only one weekend to get it all figured out. Luckily I have a plan B because my friend is dating a guy in Seattle who needs a house sitter in September for a couple months but that really is a plan B. If I stayed there, I'd have to find a home while I'm in the middle of school. Not a good situation at all. All I can say is thank goodness for the Internet and email. I dunno how people did this before.

8.10.2006

checklist

Checked couple things off my list of pre-move tasks today -- appointment with my mechanic for a tune up tomorrow, new all season tires purchased for installation Saturday, new (used) teeny tiny 700m laptop purchased, 2nd meeting with future roomate planned for Friday night dinner at our place. Still gotta get my tires balanced, car alarm fixed, and uh find a place to live.

Despite all this I managed to haul my ass to the gymnastics gym last night after a 3 week work out hiatus. I semi deliberately came late to miss the cardio warm up from hell complete with joint straining moves from the 70s. It worked out well since I managed to have enough strength left to work up the nerve to do my round off flip flop to layout into the pit and later a cast handstand to layout flyaway, again into the pit. I think I am too old to ever safely land an acrobatic move on anything other than a 6' deep pit of foam cubes. I pay dearly for it though as it takes me several minutes to climb out of the foam after doing a move that takes a couple seconds to complete. I guess that makes up for my playing hooky during the warm up.