Saturday, December 31, 2005

Fortune Cookie

When it is dark enough, you can see the stars. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

....but this certainly helps.

Thursday, December 29, 2005


Over the weekend in a rented cabin in Lake Tahoe. It would have been the first time the child units Rei and Anna would have been exposed to snow, so we were looking forward to this for a long time. Alas, the weather did not cooperate, and we got rain. Tons of it.

So...rather than do the sledding/skiing/snowboarding thing, we spent most of the time there holed up indoors and drinking hot chocolate. And watching Dumbo and Nemo over. And over. And over again. I gotta admit that by the end of the second day, I started to emphasize with Jack Torrance and felt the itch to grab an axe and come bursting through the bathroom door.

Just then, a diversion! I was approaching the door, garbage bag in hand. It was one of those flimsy black plastic kinds with no handles, so you had to be careful lest one side tears and you dump all 46 used hot chocolate paper cups and assorted halfheartedly consumed snacks all over the floor. At any rate, right as I turned the knob, I froze. Maybe 10ft (for those outside the US, that's equal to 3m, 1.7 Swiss faden, or 0.9 pants wetting) from where I stood slouched an adult grizzly bear. He (or she. In my panic I forgot to ask) was a big bugger, easily the size of a kitchen fridge. He heard the twist of the knob and slowly turned to face me. We made eye contact. For what seemed like an eternity, we locked gazes; I was forced to experience the majesty of nature and how small my existence is when faced with evidence of something so primal. In turn, the bear probably had equally compelling and profound thoughts...likely summed up as Eat/No Eat.

Luckily, Grizzly chose the latter option, turned around and got backed to its task of rummaging through the trash dumpster. I quietly set aside my rubbish bag for later, quietly closed the door, and watched Dumbo again.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

How wars start

I read an article this morn about how the the variances in local dialects makes business transactions difficult even within the same country. This made me recall a conversation I had, back when I worked in Tokyo eight years ago. {Flashback sequence, trigger wavy visuals and harp-strumming music}

"So how are you adjusting to your first month in Tokyo?"

"okay I guess. There's a ton more people than I'm used to, my entire flat is literally the size of my old bedroom in NY, and we work 14 hours a day. Yeah I'm a little stressed."

"Sorry to hear that. Have you made any friends?"

"Oh yeah, I've been going to a Health Club after work, and met some nice people there."

"...I see."

"Different kinds of folks than the ones back in the US, but at least I know we're all there for the same reason. Makes for easier conversation anyway."

"Maybe you should find another hobby?"

"How come? Nothing wrong with getting a good sweat going! It's a great stress-reliever and really energizes me. I get sore sometimes, but still, I go almost every other day!"

"I...I..have to go. I need to speak to your parents."

"okay, tell mom and dad I said hello."

I was a little puzzled at the reaction, but gave it no further thought. Days later, I found out at work that languages have a funny way of growing stale when one is not plugged in, so to speak. In my geographic isolation in the suburbia of Rockland county, New York, I had not realized that the word "Health Club" came to mean "Brothel" in Japanese slang.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Dallas Ft. Worth; 10:12pm

So my flight is delayed again. No big deal, par for the course. They let us off the plane, with an explanation that "nothing to be concerned about. One engine is...uh, loose." That's probably a technical term designed not to confuse us laymen with fancy words like ,"forgot the bolts that hold the right wing to the fuselage." I did feel a little uncomfortable that all the crew vacated and were standing 100ft from the plane, but that's just fatigue making me jumpy of course.

At any rate, I'm thankful for a chance to stretch my legs. Entertainment was presented by a fellow passenger, red-faced and belligerent, arguing with the gate attendant.

"Everytime, I fly, you guys do this! What is the problem here? Why is this happening?!!! I demand an explanation!!!" Of course, all of us realize that the delay is the sole responsibility of this one gate attendant, and that she holds the power to make things better - she may even be able to provide a better hairpiece to this argumentative gentleman. To her credit, the attendant remains calm and let's Soon-to-be-dead-with-a-stroke-Angry-Man sputter away into incoherence. We board soon after and we go on our merry way.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Little Voices in My Head

Today was one of those days. I didn't want to talk to anybody; I wanted to be heads-down, glued to a monitor, turn off the fluorescence, and tap tap tap away at my keyboard in quiet passive aggressiveness. Heck, if I had made the concession to wear a Linux T-Shirt, my mood would have allowed me to blend in with the more technical coding-types in the building. I dunno what it was, but I was just in a snippy state of mind; I'd respond to friendly good mornings with a WHAT????

This is most unhealthy. And not the best way to keep my printouts and photocopies from being dumped in the recycle bin.

That's when I stumbled upon Innovation of the Highest Sort. The lowly bluetooth headset can be used as the Tech Worker's Mosquito repellent. As long as the blinky blue LED flashed in my ear, I found that most people would start to talk to me, but quickly pull back: "Hey did you watch the game last ni...whoa sorry, you're on the line." Even better, as long as I muttered something under my breath or nodded now and then, I didn't even have to be engaged in a phone call! I felt a little touch of insanity creeping up on me as I mumbled to myself and occasionally rocked back and forth in my chair, but the blessed silence was well worth it!!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

And knowing is half the battle

There he was! One of the folks who inspired one of my earlier posts. The paragon of multi-tasking, the one-man booster of the nation's productivity numbers! Just like when I saw him six months ago, this undoubtedly high-powered exec had his bluetooth headset on and was dispensing his wisdom while running a 8 min mile on the treadmill. Not to eavesdrop or anything, but I just wanted to bask in his greatness, so I started to run on the machine next to his. I hoped to catch some snippets or hints on how I might achieve success as well. I ran slowly, at a leisurely 9min pace, so that the sound of my own breathing won't mask the utterences from my guru neighbor.

huuuuh huhhhhh hhh ahhh ahh tomor huh roow or ahhuh Fr-Friduhha huh ayy...

A fortune-cookie piece of sage advice if I ever heard one. Perhaps I will have it embrolidered or framed.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Gassius Clay

Going up the elevator in the Fairmont hotel. I had parked my car down the street (waaaaay down the street, as it turns out, as I mistook the Hotel where the meeting was supposed to be and parked a few blocks away), so I rode the elevator from the ground floor. Six or seven Silicon Valley tech types board. They all have khakis on, a cellphone clipped to their belts; a few have bluetooth earpieces on with those blinky blue LEDs. Like a flight of lemmings, we all instinctively face the same direction, and stare silently at the Floor Display number. And then it happens. Barely noticeable at first, but then, like bad cologne, the odor wafts throughout the cramped quarters of the cabin. For the record, it wasn't me. We all notice, but we all maintain a poker face and continue our vigil of the display. Some squint slightly as a sign of discomfort.

After an interminable amount of time, the car arrives at the Lobby floor. All but I pour out into the fresh air. The look of relief on their faces are unmistakable. I need to get to the 1st floor, so I stay on. But right as the door is about to slide shut, a woman squeezes in. She too catches a wiff of the lingering odour. I see her flash a look of disgust at me. I want to shout, Hey Lady it Ain't Me! There were six other guys in here! It's one of them!! But that would only make me look more guilty of the crime. I am framed. I am mortified. The elevator arrives on the 1st floor and I scurry out, head hung in shame.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Happy Monday

An inspirational bit on a Hallmark card I received from the local sporting goods store.

"When your feet are in the right place,
your mind will follow."

During my run this morning, I stepped in a nice steaming gift from a local canine.

The cosmic implications are mind-boggling.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Two More To Go

2.5 more hours. 150 more minutes. 9000 more seconds. 6.3 glazed looks. 2.2 streams of drool from a slack jaw with mouth 1.2 inches agape.

That's how close I am to finishing my 3 years at grad school and to finishing my MBA. I can almost smell the sweet fruits of my labor! No more cog in the big machine! No siree. Not this guy! Grandiose visions of me with my new degree, strolling into the office, and settling down in my space between the off-beige cloth walls, into the plush industrial Postur-Wreck (tm) office chair, and unleashing my newfound skills on the world. Oh yes, my simple cog days are over.

I will now be a *shiny* cog in the big machine. Dream big, I say.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Work Bliss

This holiday weekend, we did a bunch of painting around the house. At first, it was kinda tedious -- all that taping so we don't smear the windows, getting the edging done, making sure we cover up the furniture etc... Then as we completed the first room and started the second, I really started to find the 'zone.' So much so, that I really began enjoying the task. In fact, I was starting to feel downright euphoric about it! Woo Hoo! Loooove to paint, baby! Bring it on!

It didn't occur to me until many hours later when I found myself with a splitting headache, that perhaps I should have opened the windows a notch.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thank you sir, may I have another

I hate writing checks. In this day and age of online bill payments, the very fact that I must pay an extra 37 cents on postage for the privilege of paying my monthlies just grates on my nerves like the metallic screech of a fork sliding alongside a metal steak knife (my kids do this often. I suspect it amuses them to see me stop in mid-eat and freeze-up with a wince of sheer primordial discomfort).

Last night, insult to injury, salt in the wound! Not only did the energy monopoly in my area jack up the per-kilowatt rates, but I got a papecut on my tongue as I was licking the adhesive on the back of the envelope! As a Service to You our Valued Customer, We Have Deployed Ground Glass in Your Envelope! Happy Holidays from Your Friends at the Electric Company! And Remember Who Owns You.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Vitamin C

Feeling a little groggy after lunch. And not from eating too much, though I suppose I did do that. Had some Caesar salad, some chicken satay, grilled shrimp with avocado sauce, and a small 12oz steak. I didn't even have much dessert.

I may be catching a bit of a bug. Not in a face-down-in-my-own-bodily-fluids sort of way, but just a It probably doesn't help that my oldest picks up a few harmless cold germs from school, tinkers with 'em a bit, then thoughtfully re-packages them in novel and creative combos that my old-time immune system doesn't quite recognize. Whammo. Instant cold transfer.

Oh well, I guess that means that I too will have to show my child's bio-creativity and share the new germs with my coworkers. Hey dude, sorry about that, next time I'll try not to sneeze while answering your question. Oh and let me get that green goo off of your glasses...

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Helpful Little Friends

Today, as I was sitting in my VP's all-hands meeting, my cellphone gave off an ear-splitting shriek. I fumbled with the device for what seemed like an eternity, then found the off button. I was so panicked that I would have smashed the unit on the formica conference room table had I not found the power-off.

Unfortunately, by this time, several eyes were already glaring my way. I felt like a loser, so I lowered my eyes in shame. That's when I noticed the message on my phone's LCD, and understood what my helper device was trying to urgently convey to me:

"Thursday Nov. 17: Task Reminder: Don't forget to turn off sound before the meeting"

Sunday, November 13, 2005


Holiday cheer and all, but I really can do without the frenzied and tense atmosphere that surrounds the shopping. There's still 5 weeks to Christmas, but I can already feel the Edge interlaced with saccharine cheer. Parking at the shopping mall is perhaps the experience that I most detest, and is THE reason why 99.999% of my stuff is bought online (if I could buy gasoline online, I think I'd be at 100%).

Friday, for instance, we stalked shoppers back to their cars for the perfect space. Unfortunately, there were 6 other cars doing the same thing. I guess this is what deer feel like during hunting season in rural New York or Denver. Shoppers though, seem oblivious to the stalking vehicles; they calmly go about their business, and take their time to locate their vehicles, unlock the door, load their wares, check the mirror, fix their makeup, and take a short nap. Then they back out. By this time, the stalkers are whipped up in a frenzy, and there are 2-3 vehicles signaling for the same space. Usually, the person with the less expensive, what-the-hell-do-I-care-if-you-ding-me vehicle wins out over the YuppieMobiles for a little class equalization. Regardless who wins, there's a protocol that must be followed by the vanquished. A quick mono-digit salute to indicate gracious acceptance of defeat, and a horn blast of not less than 8 seconds to announce the event.

We weren't even in the running for that one. How far out of the running? Using the hunter analogy, 2-3 hunters were having duels for the right to shoot one prize deer, but we showed up with a fishing pole. In fact, it dawned on us the absurdity of hunting for the perfect space that's 20 ft closer to the entrance; especially when we were there to buy a new pair of sneakers...

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Meanwhile, back at the ranch

two days later...

Whoa, I'm still pretty sore from Sunday's race.

Perhaps it's the I-had-an-accident-in-my-shorts shuffle, as I grab my morning coffee, but people are lookin' at me funny and avoiding eye contact.

Monday, November 07, 2005


One Hour Fifty-Five minutes. Not gonna win any medals or anything, but it's the fastest I've ever run a half marathon. Very proud of myself, as well as of my training buddy AP, who photo-finished at the same time I did.

24 hours later, the memories of the last two miles or so are seared in my memory. There were throngs of spectators lined up along the seawall, yelling encouragement to the runners. "C'mon #1543, lookin' strong!" "You can do it #109! Keep it up!" I'm in royal amounts of pain, but I can hear them cheer on the bib numbers of the runners ahead of me. When they get to AP and my numbers, they shout "C'mon #146 and #159, you can....(silence. then whisper whisper whisper)." Then, they reach a cosensus that it is okay to lie. "Looking strong guys! Almost there!"

Today, I wanna tell the world, but I don't want to be too obvious about it. So I go all subtle-like:

Hey what time is the meeting?
Well, probably slightly more than one hour and fifty-five minutes from now, thank you.

Geez, traffic was bad today, huh?
Oh yeah, it took me much longer than usual. Probably at *least* one hour and fifty-five minutes!

What is your favorite colour?
one hour and fifty-five minutes, thanks for asking.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


One of the sacred duties of parenthood dictate that the parent or guardian must Sort through their child's Halloween loot. This Sort consists of me rifling through my kids' treat bags and appropriating the pieces that I enjoy (KitKats, Resses'Peanut Butter cups, Snickers, Peanut M&Ms). I do this by the powers and authority vested in me in the Name of the Dentist. My kids are still young, 5 and 3, so they buy this story and are thoroughly convinced that I saved them from the Bad Candy. Lest people think I am a heartless monster, I left them the Good Candy (aka stuff I don't like) like candy corn, swizzle sticks, sweetarts, smartees, etc.

Perhaps the kiddies are smarter than I am. After two days of gorging on chocolate, I...feel...unwell.

Friday, October 28, 2005

United Colors of Benetton

Urrrr. Not happy. This pseudo Hilton has denied me my God-given right to dialtone. And I'm starving, having got into town 2 hours later than planned. Undeterred, I dial the front desk with my cellphone.

"Hilton Airport, may I help you?" chirped the receptionist.

"Yes you can. I'm in 305 and would like room service"

"Sir, room service is for guests. We don't deliver, unfortunately"

"Wha..? 305. I'm in 305 in this hotel! My roomphone isn't working so I'm using my cell"

"Oh why didn't you just press the Maintenance button?"

"Because my phone is brok...never mind. Can you please transfer me to room service? My name is Hideo and you can match that to the room number."

"Oh here you are. What kind of a name is that?"


"Oh you speak English very good. I wouldn't have thought so by looking at your name"

"uh...thanks. I do speak English *well*"

"Yes you do! Transferring you now..."

As I ordered my burger, it really sunk in that most of the country is not very...diverse. I guess having grown up near New York city, worked overseas and living in San Jose today has exposed me to a population sample very different from everywhere else.

Hmm...Business Opp?

Maybe I'll put up signs next time and charge admission. Asian Man! Like you see in Movies! Till Thursday only!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


ok, so I'm the target customer for consumer electronics. I'm generally pretty good about how I spend my cash and such, but when it comes to bright and shiny new gizmos, I'm a total sucker. In fact, I come from a long line of such high-propensity-to-buy target customer segment individuals. My dad bought his first PC back when we used a standard audio tape as a memory device. We of course, also bought the first betamax video. My grandpa used to routinely blow his take-home pay on vacuum tubes to soup up his stereo system. I think it's a genetic defect of some sort. And it has manifested itself in me bigtime.

Case in point, those turtlenecked consumer marketing brainwashers in Cupertino convinced me that my life is just not complete without a 20GB iPod. Fine. Done. But what if I want to go running? I need something lighter. Because life is random. iPod Shuffle, welcome to your new home. But then, Impossibly Small. Before I knew what was going on, I was listening to an iPod nano. I'm gonna pass on the iPod video, but I don't think I can resist this new addition Apple unveiled this week: the iPod Mobile!

Monday, October 24, 2005


I'm travelling tomorrow so I'll be staying at a hotel. Necessary evil; I usually feel disturbingly disoriented whenever I wake up in an unfamiliar locale. Which of course is kinda weird considering how corporate cookie-cutter all hotel rooms are these days.

I really do feel spoiled and coddled these days though. Six short years ago when I was a salaryman working in Tokyo, my accomodations were different from what they are now when I travel. You have to understand the context first. In Tokyo, drinking, most often heavy drinking, is an integral part of business. Men my dad's age would be vomiting down their 3 piece suit and no one would give them a second glance (unless of course, he was doing so on your shoes). Like trained athletes, younger revelers will steady themselves on the railings, find their zone, and open the floodgates of still-cold beer.

At any rate, this leads to many missed trains and the need to find cheap housing. You don't want to shell out $100 for a hotel room, nor does spending $200 on a cab ride home appeal to you. What to do? Well, stay in a capsule hotel of course! It's totally sci-fi (picture those hibernation units from the Aliens movies) in a industrial-organic way. You get your own locker and your own little cubby-hole to call home for a night. The keys are on rubber wrist-bands so you don't accidentally leave it somehwhere or flush it down the toilet. And let me tell you, one has not lived until waking up to the sound of a bunch of hung-over salarymen hawking their way through a juicy phlegm buildup.

And folks ask why I enjoy being back in the USA.

Friday, October 21, 2005


Bright and shiny things. Can't resist 'em.

The company issued the Treo 650s today, and I finally got mine. I stayed up past 2 am to set the dang thing up, but once the email and calendar thing got going, it was all I could do to stifle tears of joy. Actually, I didn't have to stifle too hard because my tear glands had long ago dried out while working in a dark room under the pale flickering glow of the humming fluorescent desk lamp. I was so excited, I placed a call to my voicemail at work.

Then it hit me. As a cellphone,this is pretty...poor. If I was an extra in an 80's show, hanging' with Crockett and Tubbs, this massive device would have fit right in. But even compared to the el cheapo cell phone that I used earlier, this Treo phone functionality is lacking. I also found the volume too low; even in the dead of night, I had to press my face into the screen to get good sound. Kind of neat though to see the mini-keyboard imprinted on my cheek as a result. QWERTY face will be the new black for Silicon Valley chic.

A car with an awesome stereo system but has four square wheels. A fridge that automatically makes three kinds of ice and filters your water but occasionally spoils your food. A phone that has great email and scheduling but you hunt for a landline instead.

But who cares. It is bright and shiny.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Collective Decision-Making

This is a piece of creative that made it past 5 reviews involving nine people. It has appeared on internal and external training material for the past year or so...

"Geez, I suppose I should have gone lighter on the Mexican buffet...! But no harm done; I'm sure no one noticed that last one."


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Need help? Here it is!

I ran out of business cards today. As I was typing up a request for a new batch, it occurred to me that I'm not too sure what to fill in for the "official title" field. If left unchecked, I knew that this would probably cause me to lose nanoseconds of sleep, so I frantically Googled for help.

And there, I came upon

Result: "Level B Communications Specialist"

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Monday, October 10, 2005

Fog o' war

I dunno what it is today, but I feel like cotton candy has been stuffed into my brain. My limbs feel like leaden weights and I can barely keep a stream of drool from dripping onto my keyboard. It may be the four slices of pepperoni pizza I had for lunch. Or the M&Ms I had afterwards. But I washed those down with a Diet Coke; modern theory says that the two should have cancelled out in my stomach for a net-zero reaction. Regardless, I find myself doggedly typing away on an Excel sheet. I'm not quite sure what it is that I'm trying to calculate, but I am determined to keep at it. It's like the old inspirational adage, "If you truly believe that you can compensate for lack of skill by working harder, there's no end to what you can't do."

Thursday, October 06, 2005

The Other California Wine

Y'know what I don't like about wine?

It's all that pomp and intimidating ritual! Who needs to worry if one should serve Brick or Colby cheese to go with that California Chardonnay? There's only so much brain cell (singular) that you can engage while getting smashed anyway.

That's when I recalled a simpler time, back in school: Mad Dog 20/20. Nothing says sophistication like Mango-Lime flavored 5o proof wine. The only cheese you needed to worry about was Cheetos Now Even Cheesier cheese puffs! And, as a special bonus, MD came with a brown paper bag that you can drink straight from!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Outlook..more aptly named as Lookout

Company migrated to Outlook last month (unification of email, calendaring, monitoring of tracking chips embedded under our skins, etc.). As can be expected, there was some initial churn and confusion. I had questions of my own -- wasn't sure what the Outlook icons meant. Now I do!

Click to expand:

Monday, October 03, 2005

Universal Words of Wisdom

Ah that smell in the air. It's that time of quarter again. Budget time! Woo hoo! Your friend and mine!

It's good and comforting to see that the Brotherhood of Excel extends to our friends in Australia as well.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Breakfast Tribulations

Bzz Bzz Bzz

My cellphone is awake. It doesn't like its sleep being interrupted and is vibrating angrily on the wooden desktop. I stare at it for a moment; wondering if I should just let it calm down and go to voicemail. I peer over the LCD, it's a number I don't recognize. The phone, getting impatient, is vibrating towards me; the table amplifies its calls of indignation. I sigh, pick up the device and flip it open.



Sorry, no. You have the wrong number.

Well, I just wanted to say that my ride cancelled and looks like I'll take you up on the offer after all.

Um, you have the wrong number.

What are you saying? You said Irene would let you have the keys.

What? You have the wrong number.

You can't bail on me now, what about my appointment?

Don't mean to sound uncaring, but I really don't care.

You're always pulling this shit! Fine, be that way!

Wha..why...I am not...


I sit stunned, cellphone in hand. I don't know why I feel guilty for letting this irate woman down, but I sort of do. Equally annoying, I think of at least three clever and snappy comebacks that I could have given her when she accused me of being unreliable. As always, the best is reserved for when the opportunity has gone by. Oh well, at least it wasn't some crazy work colleague asking for a powerpoint on a Sat morning.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Good Morning from the Man

First thing I see when I get into the office this morn -- a sign inside the brushed metallic doors of the elevator:

Doors May Open Prematurely. Be Careful When Existing.
Work Place Resources Have Been Notified.

As I pondered that bit of zen, the doors slid to a close. Like the prophesies of old, the sign vanished, obscured by the now closed door...

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

You say tomato...I say to-mato

412 miles logged on my current sneaker. Almost time to buy a new pair, according to the Nike website. They actually recommend you replace every two weeks, but I think my range is within safe bounds. I always wince with remembrance when I walk into a sportshop for sneaks, because invariably I flash back to...

...self-consciously walking into the runner's section of a 'serious' sports store. I had just picked up running, and was going to upgrade my footwear. I didn't want to sound like a total newbie, so I had researched all the Key Words and In The Know Jargon and was rehearsing them in my head. I found a store advisor, a very fit-looking woman with slabs of granite where calves usually go. I changed my walk to a light swagger, and delivered my well-rehearsed script.

"Hey there, can you help me?"

"Sure, you looking for something?"

"I sure am. I've been running with, uh...(look quickly around and pick the first brand that pops into view) Asics all my life, but wanted to see what else's out there."

"Sir, you came to the right place! What's your gait look like?"

"(aha! key word!) Yeah, I've been told that I...over-prostate"

{moment of silence}

"..beg your pardon?"

"Y'know, over-prostate. The longer I go, the more it starts to hurt."

"...hmm. Sir, I dunno how to put it, but sneakers won't help you with that problem."

At this point, I'm thinking, oh great, a new hire. She doesn't know the terminology.

"{sigh} ok then, I guess I'll try elsewhere"

"You do that sir."

Later that day, I Google Runner's World for the sneaker reviews. To my dismay, the correct word I should have used was "Over-pronate."

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

If we were a cartoon

Ran into a former colleague today during lunch. We worked together in another company some years ago and had nurtured a relationship that is hard to describe in words. If I could package it into a designer scent, perhaps it would be Calvin Klein's "Absolute Detest."

It's times like this I realize how lucky we are that we can't read each other's thought bubbles. The volume of bubbles would have blocked up traffic on both sides of us and filled up the cartoon panel that we were in. And the language! We woulda been yanked off syndication for sure.

But as it were, we exchanged polite greetings and went our merry ways. So my column survives yet another day.

Monday, September 26, 2005

And one for my golden retriever, please...

Rich People Trail(RPT, not to be confused with RTP, where I sometimes go to eat Buffalo meat), Sunday 7:11am.

We're in Los Gatos, a veritable beacon for the well-heeled. We're driving through the tony downtown area to get to the trail entrance. There are no strip malls here. These are boutiques nestled amongst tastefully adorned single-family homes (which cost as much as 5 or 6 single families make in a year).

AP spies a parking spot, and wrestles his '94 Accord between a 2005 BMW 740 and a brand-new Volvo S60. As the vehicle shudders to a halt, passerby and joggers look warily on. The silent W2 sensors have gone off, and the locals are nervous. It probably doesn't help that AP is wearing a knitted cap and dark glasses, giving him a I'm-making-a-withdrawal-at-the-711 look. He's just trying to stay warm; AP wears his hair short, and the morning is chilly. But the townsfolk don't know that. He may as well have "Blossom Hill Kidz" or "Thug Life" tattooed on his forehead.

But I gotta tell ya, the trail was beautiful. Very neatly maintained, free of motorized traffic, and very convenient. I was wondering why all the other joggers had lattes and identical golden retrievers in tow; it turns out that there are espresso kiosks on most mile markers and you can rent your very own accessory dog at the other end of the trail! Nice! Apparently there's also an option to hire throngs of adoring fans near the 10km mark to cheer you on to greater heights.

One of these days, when me and five or six families scrape together our combined life savings, we may be able to live on these hallowed cobblestone streets. Or at least in a nice designer refrigerator box beneath the bridge...

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Friday the 13th Part XIX

First presentation, looked great: sesame seed bun lightly grilled, tomatoes, lettuce, slice of American, and a nice thick patty, First bite, not bad. The bread crust and the fluffy bread interior lent a satisfying tactile element to the sensory input provided by the savory blend of meat, spices and the acidic tang of ketchup. But then it happened. The cross-section revealed a multi-layered geographical map of details of which I was previously ignorant.

Ok, this meat is a little undercooked. I've done better just by sitting out in the sun too long.

Should I risk it? Of course not, food poisoning is nothing to trifle with. But then it taunted me. Feelin' lucky punk? Don't you wanna test out the Russian Roulette of natural selection? Are your genes up to snuff? Didn't think so! Why don't you go hang out by the sea turtles and pandas; we'll remember you as a stuffed diorama on the 2nd floor of the Museum of Natural History!

No lunch meat talks to me like that! I punished it by downing it in four swift bites. I chewed and swallowed with vengeance in my heart. Then it was gone.

But like the last scene in every horror flick, there was a little something to keep the audiences guessing. Perhaps Jason really isn't dead. Maybe Freddy's Nightmares will begin again. Maybe, just maybe, that hamburger isn't done with me yet?

We shall see....

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

News from the Front

Latest status report from the kitchen theater on the War on Ants. Initial field report here.

First deployment of the Terro Ant killer started two weeks ago. Update to initial reports showed a decrease in ant population, but wait!!!! They seem to be getting an immunity! In fact, these little buggers appear to be gathering around the bait after work, drinking a couple of nanopints, then calling it quits for the day. Some of the same ants appear to work a little hungover the next day, but otherwise able to function!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Lone Star

Texas. Big ol' Texas. Where meat is served three meals a day and sometime four.

The place where we went last night was pretty tasty; nice rack o' ribs, some steak fries, and a nice frosty pint of barbeque sauce to wash it down with. There was a man sitting at a table next to ours, trying to 'eat lite,' so he ordered buffalo wings. Chicken is better for you, yaknow, he said to his dining companion; as he wiped his fingers on the wet-naps. The hazy lighting of the restaurant made the hot sauce on his fingers look like he had just performed open-heart surgury. Given the diet, I suppose that's not a stretch.

I like steak as much as the next guy, buy after 6 meals, I think I need a salad. Or pehaps a serving of I Can't Beleive It's Yogurt, "Beef-n-Bacon bits" flavor, only avail at DFW airport.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Condition Red

*6:52am Sunday. Mile 3.5 of a 7 mile run. Somewhere in south San Jose.

Minor rumbles.
Ignore? Yes/No/Cancel. Press Yes.

*6:57am Sunday, Mile 4.1.

Rumblings grow slightly more urgent. Briefly consider stopping, but find no areas of opportunity. Besides, urgency crests, then subsides.
Ignore? Yes/No/Remind me Later. Press Remind Me Later.

*7:02am Sunday, Mile 4.6

The urgency and temporal relief come in sine wave fashion. I think I can make it home to mile 7. Starting to feel sweat, not from the heat, but a cold, clammy kind of sweat. Sine wave peaks come in shorter intervals. Internal dialogue with self begins; tempting self with images of making it all the way home.
Ignore? Yes/No/Remind me Later. Press No.

*7:06am Sunday, Mile 5.0

This is not a drill. Repeat, this is not a drill. Internal dialogue turns to internal pleading, promising myself untold riches if it would just hold on for a couple of minutes more. I spy a Starbucks. I will forever be grateful to its corporate open-door policy. I sprint in, and barely make it. Minutes later, I reemerge. I feel as though the weight of the world has lifted off of my shoulders. I have transcended...
Ignore? Yes/No/Remind me Later. Having narrowly averted a reboot, Press Yes.

*7:25am Sunday, Mile 7.0
Stop running. Home at last. I vow to purchase at least two grandes on the way to work tomorrow to repay that corner Starbucks for providing me with salvation.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Tech Odds

Actuarial tables used for calculating common office tech events:

"Conference" button hangs up on the folks you put on hold:

NetMeeting setup issues chews up the first 15 min. of the meeting:

Presenter gives up on NetMeeting; emails preso to all:

Embarrassing IM message projected onscreen during your preso:

You forget that there are folks dialed into a conference room:

Chance of the above happening when you're talking smack about that person:

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


1:45pm. Off-peak time for the breakroom microwave. There's only two, so people tend to line up if you go right at noon. I hate making small talk when I'm hungry and I'm pretty unpleasant company when my blood sugar is low. Usually, I'm too occupied with glaring at the timer dial for the person before me and willing the countdown to proceed faster. I'm famished and cranky, so I decide that I want to spare myself the aggravation and wait until a bit later.

Today, in the otherwise empty breakroom, three engineering types were huddled together, discussing something. Their conversation was indecipherable; they sounded almost like a fax machine making contact with the other party (that screeeeeeee bzeeeee shhhhhh screeeee noise). But as soon as one of them realized that an interloper was sharing airspace, conversation immediately halted. I was reminded of a spaghetti western when the the new sheriff pushes open the double pane door to the saloon, and the entire place drops what they are doing to stare at the stranger. The engineers look at each other, nod once, then disperse; Linux T-shirts fluttering in their wake.

One of them abruptly pops her head back into the breakroom, and glances furtively about. Before I can greet her, she makes a beeline to the microwave and retrieves her lunch. She casts a look sideways toward me, as if to make sure that I did not partake of any morsels in the few seconds that the food was left unattended.

I suddenly feel as though I lost my innocence. I now have this sneaking feeling that Marketing people aren't universally loved?

Monday, August 29, 2005


Dazed from jet lag and feeling somewhat dizzy from sleep deprivation. The hum and rumble of the shuttle bus, punctuated by the snap of the driver's bubblegum is the only sound I hear.

Across from me, I spy a child; his concentration focused on a singular task. I watch, spell-bound. He has his finger up one nostril. First one joint disappears. Then the second. Improbably, his third joint disappears up his nose; like that scene from "Total Recall" where Arnold the fugitive sticks the metal rod up his nose to remove the homing device. It's almost as though the boy's nostril is somehow linked to another dimension, or is the result of some elaborate Las Vegas dinner/magic show illusion. Perhaps the boy will cause a live circus animal to spring from his nose. A white tiger, maybe, like the one that mauled Siegfield and Roy, would burst forth and elicit a vicious roar. Dammit, kid, those are wild animals you're dealing with, not some cartoon pet to be used for your amusement! Leave that finger in there until we get some professional animal trainers in here! It was all I could to keep from getting up across the aisle and shaking some sense into the child.

Fortunately, I arrived at my long-term parking stop, and I disembarked. I'm worried about the deep-dive-nose-miner, but as they say, the show must go on...

Posting from a college friend (#4 my favorite):

The Washington Post's Mensa Invitational once again asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.

Here are this year's winners. Read them carefully. Each is an artificial word with only one letter altered to form a real word. Some are terrifically innovative:

1.. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.

2. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.

3. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

4. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subjectfinancially impotent for an indefinite period.

5. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.

6. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the personwho doesn't get it.

7. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

8. Hipatitis: Terminal coolness.

9. Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)

10. Karmageddon: It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a seriousbummer.

11. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the dayconsuming only things that are good for you.

12. Glibido: All talk and no action.

13. Dopeler effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

14. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you'veaccidentally walked through a spider web.

15. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into yourbedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.

16. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a worm in thefruit you're eating.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Available in Original and New Mountain Fresh Scent

Looooove Tokyo in August. I'm working in the Akasaka office today, so I'm dressed business casual. Which in Japan means that I pretty much have to wear a suit, but get to leave my jacket behind. Oh and the tie can be a slightly loosened.

At any rate, the humidity and heat feel absolutely great. That delicious feeling of having your shirt stick to your back the moment you step outside...! Savor the sensation of beads of sweat rolling down your face and momentarily coalescing on your starched collar before being absorbed into the fabric. doesn't get any better. Oh wait, but it can! Take one step inside any building and you can enjoy arctic blasts of air that instantly dries the prespiration and causes your teeth to chatter with glee. The excess moisture soon evaporates, leaving behind fine white mineral deposits on your clothing. Need seasoning? Gently brush off deposits onto your lunch for a truely organic treat!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Here endeth the lesson

Envelopes that should not be pushed:

Expiration date on chicken.

oh, no reason. Pass the Pepto.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


Besieged by ants. Ants all over the place. Lines and lines and lines of these insects, marching along with purpose. I tried spraying, but that didn't work too well. It killed the buggers that I hit directly, but an hour later, they're back again. Worse yet, each of the afflicted soldiers do a little Platoon/William Dafoe; arching back and raising its antennae in supplication to the cruel and remorseless fates. Much as I dislike these guys, I feel a bit...guilty. The ant baits fare just as poorly. The ants just walk over the plastic Raid containers, and keep walking toward tastier morsels. As befitting this nuevo-riche snob neighborhood (*lest there be any confusion, those communities are a half a mile up the hill from here. My place is where the help for the snob neighborhood live. But amongst pool cleaners and gardeners, we are considered snobby pool cleaners and gardeners), the ants have very jaded palettes. That Raid bait is a 2006 March from the Minneapolis region, terrible batch. The 2004 Texas is to die for!

Why can't we come to a compromise? I would be totally willing to set aside a plate of goodies at a mutually satisfactory location, say, right outside the garage. The ants will have guaranteed, wholesome foods (well as wholesome as the food I eat anyway), as long as they do not enter the demark of the garage door. Sort of a DMZ if you will. Alas, the talks have fallen apart again. The battle and the war rages on....

Friday, August 05, 2005

Friday Afternoon Translator

Brain winding down for the week, but you suddenly receive Monday-material corporate mail? Fret no more!

Before (written by a commitee of writers, editors, and brand managers):

The Alpha Dog Release will help the Company set the foundation to provide customers with the best, most innovative and seamless purchasing experience anywhere. Benefits of the Alpha Dog Release include a robust foundation, improved processes and tools, and improved order and data quality.

After (straight talk translated by Gizoogle's textilizer):

The Alpha Dog Releaze wiznill help tha Company set tha foundation ta provide customa wit tha biznest, most innovative n seamless rhymin' experience anywhere . You gotta check dis shit out yo. Benefits of tha Alpha Dog Releaze include a robust foundation, improved processes n tools, n improved shot calla n data quality.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Culinary Delights!

Harumi and the kids headed to Japan early for her brother's wedding. That means that until I join them later in the month, I have to fend for myself. No problem. The guy from "Supersize Me" lasted a month eating nothing but McDonalds, after all.

Last night, I got home from work and night classes, and found myself completely out of ready-to-eats. I didn't have the gumption to go back out and buy something, but I was still famished. I thought. And I pondered. Things were looking bleak. In this dark hour, I heard a small voice. Look here, it sang. I whirl around as in slow-motion, and come eye-to-eye with the deep-fry machine. Yes, it is I, your salvation, it seemed to purr. I don't recall the next hour with any clarity, but I found my clothes covered in grease, and plates of fried delicacies arranged in front of me. I dug in. And I learned:

===Things that are good to fry======
potatoes = French fries
bananas = fried bananas I guess

===Things that are not good to fry===
grapes = boom
cereal = crunchy but mildly nauseating because it soaks too much grease. Especially cocoa puffs.

Monday, August 01, 2005


A former colleague of mine called out of the blue today. He's started his own business, which of course, is totally cool.

"Wait and see, one of these days, you'll see me ringing' the bell at the NYSE!!"

I congratulated him, and put the phone back in its cradle.

Try as I may, I couldn't shake the image of him in a Salvation Army Santa suit, ringing his bell outside the NYSE lobby and soliciting donations...

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Ignorance is Bliss

Fifteen Thousand People!! That's a heckuva lot of folk who paid good money to run in the 2005 Wharf to Wharf. AP and I ran; we finished a sobering and slow 49:42 and 50:08, respectively. Oh well, guess you can't cram exercise like you can for a meeting or a class.

Rewind to the start of the race. Whirrrr. Click. Play.

I'm trying to stretch, but there's not enough room. As I'm squirming around, I overhear a conversation between two women.

One points to a tattoo on the back of her neck.

"I really identified with the word, y'know: Spirit. It captures the essence of what I'm all about. I had the parlor inscribe the Chinese Kanji character. It focuses my energy."

Curious, I look as well. Japanese shares some of the same characters, so I was able to read it. I didn't have the heart to tell the woman what it said:


Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Woo Hoo sign me up!

...from my breakfast receipt:

Thank you for eating at McDonald's Corp.

Bring 5 receipts from the same week Monday-Friday and recieve a 6-piece Chicken McNugget Free!

Also try our chicken and walnut McSalad. Look for the green fork!

I'm lovin' it.

This was mind-boggling on so many levels. Buuut at this hour in the morning....

I may be but a unfrozen caveman lawyer frightened by your flying machines and speaking boxes. But I do know one thing; those McMuffins with bacon and cheese are just what the doctor ordered for starting out the day!

Friday, July 15, 2005

Problem? You're the one with the problem! Git off my back!

Last physical I had, the doc said three things that stuck in my head. You eat too much junk food. You ingest too much caffene. Your metabolism will grind to a halt very soon, and it'll wipe that little smirk of yours right off of your face.

Since my birthday is coming up next week, I thought I would try to rectify my evil ways. Can't give up sugar, so I tried caffene. This morning, I went without my cutomary cup of Grande and lasted till noon. Talk about a miserable experience. Pounding headache and cranky as hell. I even started to feel kinda sick. Not in a face-down-in-a-puddle-of-my-own-bodily-fluids kind of way, but sick nonetheless...

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Smile for da camera

Video call! New fangled technology!

After getting over the fun of remotely controlling the camera on the other end (Zoom: Hey you have some lettuce in your teeth there), it suddenly dawned on me. It is hard to concentrate on this dang thing. Voice calls are one thing, but with live video feed, I go into passive Monster-Trucks-Sportcenter-Fox news mode. Y'know, remote in hand, and unconsciously tapping the 'channel' button. It is all I could do to not let my mouth go slack and have a stream of drool dribble down the side.

And the footage is hardly riveting. It's like watching cspan of your local townhall meeting (equivalent of angry residents clashing over the height limitations ordances for yard fences). The only problem is, this cspan occasionally pauses, looks back at me from the screen, and asks a question.

New tact: I've taken to consicuously making an effort to occasionally look straight into the camera and stroke my chin contemplatively. Wish I had a goatee...

Sunday, July 10, 2005


ok. I admit it. I've taken the Myers-Briggs many times in the past, but this latest round is the breaker. I Introvert! An INTJ -- Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judgemental. How can this be??? I've thrived for 5 years in sales, and am doing well going on my 7th year in marketing! I present all the time and I enjoy it! People in my MBA class think I'm an airhog!

The prevailing image in my mind is of the classic comedy sketch from the 80's, wherein the social misfit stands in the background and metes out punishment to wrongdoers using nothing more than his thumb and forefinger. I'm crushing your head! I'm crushing your head!

Last week, however, I witnessed a great event. One of the higher-ups in the marketing org, a real limelight kinda guy, opened up his preso by admitting that he is an Introvert! Hallelujia Brother! I almost broke out in spontaneous dance and gospel, so that other closet Introverts in the meeting room could also sieze the day! I would surely have done so if I had not been in the back of the room, avoiding eye contact, hugging my knees and rocking back and forth...I'm an excellent driver. Fifteen minutes to Judge Wapner.

Friday, July 01, 2005

The Dentist.
I don't particularly fear the chair or anything, but there are some things there that really annoy me. Air-powered drill? No prob. Fine cloud of bone-dust making me choke? yawn. Electric shock of pain when the pointy hook tool pokes an exposed nerve? bring it on, punk.


I can't stand the light banter that the aide and the dentist have over my head. They sometimes talk as though I am nothing more than a $7.99 Walmart fondue kit; yap yap yap, occasional jab into crevice with metal implement, continue to yap.

"So last week, I'm out fishing." (whirrrrr.screeeeeeeeeee. whirrrrr.)

"is that so?" (wipes blood)

"yeah, the sucker had to be this big!" (pauses drilling so he can indicate size with both hands)

"you're such a liar" (mops more blood).

Worse yet, they sometimes want to involve me in the conversation!

"So how are the kids?"

"MMmmnn Hthmmm" (Fine, thanks)

"What have we got here?" (whirrrrrr.screeeeeeeee.whirrrr)

"Mwrrrrr!!!" (Mwrrrrrr!!!)

"Let me know if this stings"

"MM MM MM MM!" (it stings it stings it stings)

"Yeah, I think we'll get some rain today" (whirrrrr.screeeeeee.whirrrr)

"Mmmnnn Mnnnnn Nnnnnm!" (Give me some more damn Novacane!!)

"I hear ya. Can't believe that gas prices are almost $3 a gallon."

"MMMMMMMMMM" (what the hell are you talking about? Jab me with the pain killers now!!)

"there now. that wasn't so bad, was it?"

"...mmmmmmhhhnn" (...I hate you)

Next dental appointment July 11. Already dreading it. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, June 30, 2005

old habits

Found myself drifting off during a conversation I was having with a coworker. Maybe need some more sleep? Less starch in my lunch? At any rate, I snapped back into the conversation when the other looked at me expectantly and asked, "What do you think, Hideo?"

Using reflexes honed during hundreds of hours worth of conference calls, I quickly scanned my mental list of replies (picture scene in the first Terminator movie where Arnold the killer robot picks a charming come-back to the question, "Whaat, did somethin' die in there?").

An assasin cyborg from the future I am not. What tumbled out of my mouth was, "Oh sorry, I must have been on mute..."

Thursday, June 23, 2005


Once more in NYC for a meeting with the Eurpoean folks.

Americans are at such a disadvantage in this setting. We are immediately psyched out by that accent...Tally Ho! Tea and crumpets anyone?

Monday, June 20, 2005

I'll take "Names" for $500 please

6:00pm. MBA summer class starts.

"Hey there Hideo!"

(Darn. I recognize this guy's face, but I totally can't remember his name. Keith? Mike? John? I think there's a good chance that it's one of those).

"Hey man, good to see ya! Almost graduating?"

(Seems like a safe bet. I saw him during capstone, so like me, he must be close)

"Yeah, can't wait. 'bout you, Hideo?"

(Stop it!!!! You're tormenting me. You see that I don't remember, and you taunt me by flaunting your mental recall prowess!! But wait, two can play that game)

"Same here. Hey, my mail file crashed again I think I have to rebuild my contact list. Can you give me your email?"

"Sure. It's 675bsl***** I created a separate account for school using my dog's birthday as my ID."

(damn you. You saw that coming! )

"I dread the first day of the quarter. Every prof butchers "Hideo" during roll. You're lucky that not many people screw up your name! With a name like yours, how could ya, right?"

(say it say it SAY IT!)

"Very true. Gotta hit the coffee bar before class. Talk to ya later, Hideo."


( you may have won this battle, my worthy nemesis, but believe you me, I am not defeated!)

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Monkey see, monkey doo

Fine NYC morning. 7:45am, 88 degrees, 93% humidity. I make the short walk to the Doubletree where I'm scheduled to present. I'm early, so I peer through the corner cafe windows, looking to grab a bagel and a cheapo coffee in one of those paper cups with the flimsy fold-out handles.

I'm startled by what sounds like water landing on hard pavement after being squirted upward from a garden hose. Then realization hits. I've been tagged. My upper back, right arm, and a bit on my front pocket has suddenly grown bas-relief strokes of semi-liquid; the color of play-dough after all the reds, blues, yellows, and oranges are mixed together. Judging by the liquid volume, it was either a pigeon that has ingested an entire tin of planters nuts, or a small turkey buzzard that did the deed.

I dash into the nearest hotel to use the restroom. As luck would have it, I needed to use the elavator to get there. Normally, I would be mildly insulted by the folks that vacated the elevator on my account, but I didn't care. Yoo, lookin' at me, Mr. and Mrs. Tourist? That's right. That's bird ^%$#, yo you want somma this? Welcome to NYC.

At any rate, the stains didn't come out, despite vigorous scrubbing. More funny looks from tourists. One European man even looked like he wanted to take my picture... To close out this little anecdote, I end up rummaging at a tacky souvenir shop for the least offensive shirt I could find, and ended up presenting in that.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Eye see your point

Bone dry. That's what my eyes are these days. I've got a criss-cross interstate maze of capillaries that makes me look like I've been smoking something (but not inhaled) or that I haven't slept in a week or so. Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes! That order would have made me a hero at Bunker Hill had I been in the British ranks that day.

But I digress.

I think my eyes are getting dry because the plugs that were installed in my tear ducts need to be replaced. These apparently prevent my tears from draining too quickly; analogous to when the kids flush half a roll of toilet paper to see what happens. The thought makes me squeamish. Funny, because years ago, I was a daily contact wearer, and poking around my eyeballs was a common ritual. In fact, had there been an itch, I probably wouldn't have thought twice about scratching my orbits with the tip of a pencil. Hey now, that's dangerous, you may say. Please, I'm not stupid -- pencils these days are made of graphite, so no fear of lead poisoning there.

Made the call though, plug reinstall set for July 5.

Thursday, June 09, 2005


Walked by some grade-school kids doing a fund-raiser for their school band. Typically, one sees these tykes hawking repackaged Hershey's or Nestle Crunch bars, but this time, it was dangerously different:

Endangered Species Chocolate!

Imagine, rich chunks of African rhino in every bite! Betcha bite a Loggerneck Turtle Chip! For the smaller packages, you'd have fun-size (TM) morsels of Pacific Pocket Mouse.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

I was watching Dumbo with the kids the other day, and we got to talking about how cool it'd be to see a real flying elephant. Then I started to think about how annoyed I get when *pigeons* flying overhead relieve themselves on my car... Posted by Hello

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Financial Fun

Today, I responded to one of those "Free Initial Consultation with an Amex Advisor!" ads. They say FUD in marketing works, and this is certainly a good example. Excerpt: "... ignore this generous offer and face a life of abject poverty hanging out by the highway on-ramp during rush hour so you can panhandle some change and drown your sorrows in Mad Dog 20/20. Forward to 30 of your friends or face impending doom." Hook, line, and sinker. Before I knew it, my fingers were dialing...

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

102.1 FM

My car-mounted iPod isn't working well today, so I turn on the radio. Flipping thru the stations, something catches my ear --"Cutting-edge Classical" the tagline goes. Whoa, I think. Now THIS I gotta hear. I'm picturing avante-garde artists that play Beethoven using nothing more than dental floss and a tin of lima beans. After the Moonlight Sonata, the artist would no doubt douse themselves in raw compost and light the stage on fire as a statement against the Man.

Alas, the mellow-voiced DJ dissapoints. In the same tone as the narrator from Masterpiece theater, the DJ drones on about a Hungarian guy that will conduct the next Bach piece in (gasp) b major.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Everyday Algebra:

SB = Grande coffee, room for cream (16oz)
BC = Bladder capacity, (14.3oz)
CT = Commute time, 7:20am, Rt101 North, (41 min)

(BC-SB) x CT = ST

where ST = Cost of Speeding Ticket
Posted by Hello

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

New Fangled Technology

ok, here's another technology I can do without. Those voice-activated phone trees that promise superior service as compared to the traditional "Press 1 for tech support" trees.

"(canned female voice) Hello, welcome to our support hotline. Please tell me how I can help you."

"uh, I want to return a product."

"(canned female voice) I'm sorry, I did not get that. Can you repeat your request?"

"I received defective merchandise and I want to return it."

"(canned female voice) I'm sorry, I did not get that. Can you repeat your request?"

"Return. Product. Now."

"(canned female voice) I'm sorry, I did not get that. Can you repeat your request?"

"arghhh! ^&%$ phone tree!! Forget it!!!!"

"(canned female voice) I have. Thank you for calling."

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Organic Food

As I'm driving to the Corporate Mother Ship this morn (all right, it's Sunday. And yes, it is beautiful outside. And yes, I am a loser), I pass by a Farmer's Market. I didn't have time to stop by, but I called my wife to let her know that they've started up for the year again.

After clicking the 'disconnect' on my cell, I stop to ponder. Not literally of course. It's dangerous to come to a full stop and ponder when one is in mid-merge onto a highway.

Why, I ask myself, do we shop at these things? The wares tend to be more expensive, and are often sold in less convenient venues. I guess it's because Organic conjures up images of golden stalks of corn swaying with the breeze on a hot summer day; and meats served up by happy cows, prancing their way to a smiling farmer. Hmph. I feel like someone's been flashing me subliminal messages. Drink Coke! Eat Organic to Wash Away your Sins!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Universal Translator

Ever wonder what these mysterious HR emails mean?

"The focus should be on increased employee performance, business alignment, productivity, and development. Please note that you and your manager will be asked to formally acknowledge that a discussion on development has taken place"

Using the textilizer function on Gizoogle, now, it's easy!!

"The focus should be on increazed employee performizzles business alignment, productivizzles n develizzle yeah yeah baby. Pleaze note tizzy you n yo managa wizzle be asked ta formally acknowledge that a discussion on develizzle has taken place where the sun be shinin and I be rhymin' "

10 minutes to class. Peace out.

Rain Man

I was in the supermarket line yesterday morn, 6:30 am or so. There's only one line open, so we're all piled together from all walks of life-- local construction workers finishing their shifts, sleepless office workers like me, to mysterious folk who feel compelled to buy a six pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon and a tub of Cool Whip first thing in the morning.

At any rate, I'm standing there waiting my turn and scanning the headlines of the news items that truly impact our lives. How Angelina stole Brad. Get Fit by Eating Lard and Watching TV -- ask us how! Suddenly, I'm jarred from my reverie. "NO WAY! THAT %W@^&!!" I resist the urge to turn around, thinking, poor guy, he is suffering from Tourette's. But just like any rubber-necker on a highway accident scene, my will power gives out and I gawk. This man had freshly pressed pants and a starched dress shirt on, and appeared to be a typical white-collar commuter. Save, of course, for the fact that his arms were flailing wildly, and he was blurting out a stream of expletives as his face grew redder and redder. Then it stopped. The man stopped talking, instantly calmed down, and started scanning the checkout line magazines.

Turns out he has a Bluetooth earpiece on and was talking wirelessly via a cell phone tucked away in a pocket somewhere. Y'know, call me Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer, but those things are just plain disturbing.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


Talking with a coworker, who's spouse is a superintendent of the local school district. I'm peppering her with questions, because our son will be starting kindergarten in August.

"some of the schools are talking about installing metal detectors"

"what, in elementary school?"

Wow, kids these days. I didn't bring my first machete into school until I was in junior high!

Monday, May 16, 2005

Chariots of Fire

Special mention of Tomoo's dramatic finish at yesterday's Trivalley 10k.

On the last corner, I see him pumping his arms and legs, face crimson with exhaustion, kicking it up a notch for the grand finale. He crosses the line, and pauses. He has an expression of serenity, or a far-away look that suggests that he is thinking that this race was a metaphor for life itself. Resting his hands on his knees, Tomoo seems to shrug.

Then he puked for about 5 minutes.


Trivalley run in Pleasanton, Sunday 8:30am. Terry, Tomoo and I ran -- I clocked a pretty poor 51:34, terry did a 46 something, and Tomoo also had a slow showing at 56 something. I dunno what it was, but those little hills totally drained me...

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Barbarians at the gate

Lunch with AG, a colleague of mine from England.

"So what's going on?" I say, in between mouthfuls of cold cuts and marbled whole wheat. I notice that a bit of mustard has dribbled down my chin, so I subtly swipe the back of my hand across my mouth. I then pretend to reach down for a potato chip (5 minute rule!) and wipe my hands on my socks. Smooth operator, that's me.

"Oh, same old," he replies, as he carefully slices geometrically symmetric bite-size pieces of sandwitch with his knife. He does the same with his potato chips.

As I write this, I reflect on the necessity of expanding my culinary etiquette policy, which currently consists of only one rule: say-excuse-me-when-belching-in-mid-sentence.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

"the girls bring patience, more organization and they're more meticulous. With the boys, it's pyromania, sheer pyromania"
-Steve Hum, Rocket Team Adviser, Fisher Middle School (from SJ Mercury News, 5/11/2005)
Posted by Hello

it's all in the presentation

For the past two days, I've been in all-day meetings at a local hotel. At lunch, we got a dizzying array of delectable morsels, befitting any connoisseur of the Quick-E-Mart's fine frozen food section. Yesterday, the hotel staff couldn't find the heating element for the soup, so it was cold. They changed the label to gazpacho, and no one was the wiser.

An hour later, they found the gas attachment for the soup pot. The new label read : Minestrone.

Monday, May 09, 2005

If we only had one of these!

a baby translator ! To think that back in the day, we were so unsophisticated that we only had three coping tools in our arsenal: feed baby, change wet diaper, or pretend we're sleeping so spouse can change not-wet-but-still-mysteriously-stinky diaper.

Friday, May 06, 2005

"I want to get in shape, but running bores me!" commented an IM buddy. I thought about that for a moment, and wondered why I don't get bored. I couldn't find the answer, but I decided to pay attention the next time I went for a run.

I now know that I do not get bored, because gasping for breath and feeling like throwing up are, by and unto themselves, fairly engrossing activities. So my advice to those who postpone getting an aerobic workout due to boredom is this: run harder. Or better yet, run harder immediately following a large meal.
 Posted by Hello

Tuesday, May 03, 2005


A couple of days ago, there was a guy on the treadmill next to me who was a shining example of productivity. As he ran, he had the Wall Street Journal open in front of him, and was talking on his hands-free cellphone with somebody in Europe.

This morn, I awoke inspired and tried to emulate this paragon of efficiency. Result: got slightly nauseous from trying to read tiny print while bouncing up and down, and my conference call members thought that there was an obscene caller on the line. (pant pant).. hi... (pantpant) .. how's..the.. (pant) ..project...timeline? Hello?

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Neiman Marcus

We're writing our MBA capstone paper on Neiman Marcus, a.k.a Needless Markup. Hey, here's a bit of trivia for ya. Guess how much NM's average customer rakes in per annum? $100k? guess again.
$600K !!!!

We verified this with a field trip. As soon as we entered the rarefied air of the Stanford Mall Neiman Marcus foyer, we tripped the W2 sensors and were immediately accosted by immaculately tailored bouncers. "Pardon me sir, but I believe the Old Navy is down the street."



Here's the finish -- we ended at 3 hrs 34 min, good enuf for 42 out of 271 teams. Not too shabby. Can't take much credit for that one; we had some pretty hard core runners in the Healey Brothers -- these guys maintained 7:30/mile up a 2 mile hill. More power to 'em. Gave us slackers (that's Tomoo, Anthony and me) time to meander about with our waddling 8min/pace. Posted by Hello

Here's mile 22. Not only was my leg fairly easy, but it's also where all the food and treats are! All the other legs get bussed to the finish line, which means that I get a good 30 min headstart to chow down. Posted by Hello

Here's the topo for the course. I had mile 22-finish; one of the easier legs. Posted by Hello

Big Sur Relay

This is the first race of the year for me. Well not really. I ran a 5K at work, back in March, but I had a hacking cough during that race and my time was forgettable at best (24:52).

So here's a play-by-play. My brother Tomoo crashed at our pad last nite as we had an early -- I mean EARLY departure. We did lights-out at 9pm, and woke up at 2:30am. It was so darn early in the morn, I found myself staring at the clock for a full minute, not knowing where the heck I was... At any rate, we meet up with Anthony, a buddy from work, and we made our merry way to Monterey Penninsula College, the pickup point. It was a fun drive as the only folks awake at that time were crazy folk or drunkards who drove as straight as their perception let them, or more or less in the general right-hand side of the road...

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