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.

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