Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Situational Morality

Three Moral Dilemmas I faced today:

6:12am Garbage disposal day in my neighborhood. My recycle bin was full. My neighbor's was not. Cool to take the one bag of cans that didn't fit and toss it in my neighbor's bin?


1:02 pm Office neighbor leaves 3 cookies unattended in her space. Those will likely get eaten at any given moment by unscrupulous passerby. Should I eat those, as she'd be happier knowing that someone she knows ate her cookies and not some random stranger?


3:20pm Notice that stall#2 in the men's room is out of paper. Just then, a person I don't know bursts into the bathroom with a distinct air of urgency about him. He beelines straight for stall#2, dives in, and locks the door. Should I offer a warning, or wash my hands of the situation (literally), and walk away?

Friday, December 15, 2006

Doing much better, thanks



"Good to see ya back at work -- how're you feeling?"

"Oh, about 30ft, thanks"

Recovery from this year's little epidemic is measured in terms of radius from the nearest, um...public facility.

Monday, December 11, 2006

urg...

Double the Fun! Low-grade cold but too much to do that I don't wanna call in sick. So the solution?
An Airborne tablet dissolved in office coffee! Now I can get my 500x dosage of vitamin C and antioxidants in a de-li-cious blend of sludgy 2-day-old coffee with a hint of effervecent citric flavors! Effects: Staves off cold, may cause nausea. Best idea since meat flavoured ice cream topped with anchovies.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Remember who PWNS you

This morning, the all-too-common combo of time-crunch, hunger, and mental weakness conspired to have me walk into McDonald's for Breakfast#3. As I received the 38 cents in change, I say, "Thanks. Have a good one." Expecting either a vague forced smile or a "You too!," I was taken aback by what the cashier said.

After a barely perceptible pause, the teenage avatar of Ronald the purveyor of reconstituted beef products seemed to look into my soul and intoned, "...see you again SOON..!"

How...does...he...know? Sudden...craving...for...Quarter..Pounder..with...Cheese.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Shout out to our peeps in Chicago!

Why, do you ask, do we put up with a highway system that doubles as a parking lot, and housing costs that are measured in terms of how many times one has to die and collect life insurance?

Oh I dunno. But I must say it was chilly n San Jose, CA this morn; temp dipped 60F (17C). Brr...better break out the long-sleeve T-shirts.


Back in Black

phew. Been a while since I posted.

Hectic times!!

I had the kids solo while Harumi was outta town. Sure no prob, I said to her as I dropped her off at SF Int'l. That last statement mockingly echoed thru my head over and over for the next 8 days...

First off, both our kids have carpool arrangements with two different sets of families. So it's like this: Mondays, Anna goes to school with her buddies Annabella and Samuel, but I only pick up Anna and Samuel. Tuesdays, Annabella's mom picks up and I pick up Anna and Annabella and two bags of groceries. Each day is a different iteration of who does the pickups and which kids get picked up. For our son Rei, something similar -- a combo of playdates/carpool/after school activity.

Oh yeah, I was stressed as hell. Nightmares of coming home with the wrong set of kids danced in my dreams. Harumi thoughtfully provided a dossier by day, of everything I needed to know, complete with pictures and warnings. "Don't turn on the DVD for too long or Rei gets carsick." Next line: "Since you ignored my previous note, the wipes are under the front seat."

At any rate, I'm back in the office. Doing budget, playing with pictures on Powerpoint, and generally re-laxing. Because all this, my friends, is INFINITELY easier than being a full-time homemaker. So if you have a stay-at-home spouse, go home and thank them today!!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Oh yeah, *your* head is Orthogonal too!

I noticed that several words become trendy in the office lexicon and catch fire. Everyone from Junior Woodchuck Billy the Intern to VP of Life-or-Death start using these words in their watercooler conversations and presentations. This month's Hot Words: Orthogonal and Gestalt.

Most of the word fashion leaders use the words correctly, but as time goes on, office barbarians start picking up the words and proceed to butcher them.

"Hey you clumsy oaf! The damn chassis is orthogonal now -- we'll have to sell it as a refurb!"
"Oh, I sit directly orthogonal to where Bill's office is"
"Those marketing people are so dang tight fisted; they're like the Money Gestalt."
"I'm feeling a bit gestalt from the chicken; mind if I take the afternoon off?"
(Achoo!) "Gestalt! Now wipe off your monitor"

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Back When I was Your Age...

Yesterday I went to get Biometrics (aka fingerprints) as part of a form I filled out for the Immigration folks. I haven't been at the US Immigration office in years, so I was surprised at how different it was. Way back when, a vist to the House that Bureacracy Built would entail a 6-8 hour wait. Worse yet, becase it was first-come, first-served with a daily cap of how many people can enter its hallowed halls, people would line up at 4am (4 hours before the doors opened at 8am) and secure a spot early enuf in the line that they fall within the daily limit. The lights were off, there were no restrooms, and it was miserable.

But no more! I was all prepared with three novels, a thermous full of coffee, snacks, a blanket, and an empty bottle for..um emptying things, but I didn't need any of it! I just waltzed in at my appointed time, filled out some forms, got fingerprinted, then I was on my way. Total time elapsed: 12 minutes. And the fingerprinting machine was just plain grand. No more sticking your fingers in that inky sponge and tasting ink on your french fries for the next 48 hrs. Today, it was a purpose-built finger scanner that took a digitized photo and immediately loaded it in my profile. Instantly, this was merged in the backend to the Mother of All Databases and crossindexed with my finacial info, police records, and education history. Amazing stuff. Even more amazing, as I finished scanning my left index finger, the printer attached to the scanner churned out a coupon of Dannon's yogurt (what I had for breakfast), and printed out "2nd floor, 3pm. " which was the time of my next meeting. Truely Amazing.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Despair!

We have this teleconferencing app that announces when someone dials into or out of a meeting. "Hideo has just joined the meeting" the automated robo-voice soothingly declares. It is a bit disruptive though, as the announcement cuts off all conversation in the interim. This is especially so when attendants arrive late or leave early. I usually don't miss a beat when these interruptions occur, but today was different.

I work frequently with a marketer called Hope. When she dropped off of the line to attend another meeting, she had a different effect. "Hope has just left the meeting." Even the robo-voice sounded like it was at the end of its rope. Are things truely Hope-less? Are things so bleak? And must you, auto-attendant, remind me that all we are is Dust in the Wind? I paused mid-sentence and found myself a bit despondent. But then, a colleague IMed me a YouTube video featuring a Indian toddler doing 80's dance moves (think: Breakin' 2; Electric Bugaloo ." Synopsis: A developer tries to bulldoze a community recreation center. The local breakdancers try to stop it). I put the phone on mute, enjoyed a chuckle, and life moved on; despite the fact that all hope had left the meeting.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Truth in Advertisement

I had McDonald's coffee this morn, because slabs of lard and reconstituted deep-fried potato parts taste better with it. Aside from the somewhat appalling fact that I consumed 57% of my daily recommended sodium intake before 7:15am, it was an altogether pleasant experience. And the coffee wasn't half bad. This is different, I thought to myself. But What?

Oooh me me me me! My styrofoam cup virtually trembled with excitement, like the way a class of 1st graders would react when asked, "Who wants to say screw school and have recess all day?" So I oblige and look at the colorful wrap.

Premium Roast Coffee! Fresh Brewed! Custom Blended. Richer. Bolder. More Robust*! Caution, I'm HOT!

Wow! You're right, styrofoam cup! You do taste better! Even with the qualifier small print on the bottom of the cup that says *Compared with Previous Blends, Mileage May Vary, you're okay in my book.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Enlightenment

After months of being a recipient, I decide that I will take that bold step and use the Office Productivity Enhancements at my disposal.

"Hi there, this is Hideo, leavin' ya a voice mail so you get this first thing in the morn. Huge favor, can you chase down those from last week for me? Details via email. Peace out."

Tappity tappity tap:

======
Subject: wrt to voicemail
Body: Just following up with those codes. Need' em by noon! I'll swing by
======

hm..may as well copy her epage address so she gets the text on her pager too. Click, done.
Resend frequency? Lemme see...how about every 10min? Click, done.

Oh wait, there's her car in the parking lot. Scribble. Nothing says urgent like a post-it on a windshield!


15 minutes later, the needed info arrives. All this technology has made office life so productive! I bet in years gone by, it woulda taken weeks to stalk..uh, coax, rather, someone to provide info via carrier pirgeon and mimeograph!

Quote of the Day -- Zoinks!



"Society is always taken by surprise
at any new example of common sense."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Pressure!

Attended a back to school night for our son. I remember these things to be a fairly laid-back, if unstimulating affairs, wherein parental types would meet their offspring's teacher, and give permission to said educator to smack little Johnny upside the head if he gets outta line. The 2006 version was...much more intense. Difference between getting bopped in the head with a balloon and getting decapitated by an 18 wheeler trcuk while leaning too far out the passenger side window.

Highlights:

- 6 year olds will be broken out into five groups, ranked by ability. Highest group will be given more challenging homework, while the lowest group will be issued bibs and identifying placards around their necks.

- Stressed Dad (me!) sneaking a swig of Rockstar energy drink to keep up with frenzied air

-Parental types are hopped up on stimulants. In most civilized corners of the world, the phrase "Any questions?" is universal code for "I am done with my presentation. Let us all go home." Not spoken here. At least 8 hands shot up and our hapless instructor was peppered with questions like:

"What if we don't agree with your ranking?"
Answer: Litigation

"How much homework?"
Answer: No more than 4 hours per evening

"How do we fit THAT into Johnny's soccer, swimming, French, and ballet lessons?"
Answer: Sign him up for Time Management lessons

"Will there be appetizers served after this meeting?"
Answer: No


- Stressed Dad switching to drinking something stronger.

Monday, September 11, 2006

New Digs

Brand new locale! I woke up earlier than usual today, knowing that changes are a foot. No longer will I sit in cube J7-1, staring at the drab fabric of my 3.2 sided workspace. No longer will I be confined! Freedom to let my mind roam free, the way it was intended to be!! Fly away mind! Not too far though. Still need ya.

Yessiree, today, I plunked down into a brand new cube; Building 8, cube D3-1. This new arrangement has me facing (be still my beating heart) TOWARD the central hallway, and has me 4ft closer to the printer/copier. Oh yeah, who's the MAN now? Yeah,buddy, those are MY printouts. I can hear you rifling around in there looking for your own stuff. Well hands off! Use the facilities in your own cube slum neighborhood. Punk.

Monday, September 04, 2006

All in the Definitions

Ever have a deadline that really isn't? Deadline: Make sure you supply feedback by Friday, the memo may say. Then the next Monday, you get a followup saying; Final Final Deadline, cob today! With these, I could probably wait till Wednesday, send in some comments, and still make it into the final edits.

But I think we do the word 'deadline' an injustice. Remembering back to my high school English class days, I can distinctly remember that I got this question wrong because the sweat made the ink on the palm of my hand illegible.

From the Random House Dictionary:

"The word deadline first appeared as an American coinage that referred to the line around a military prison beyond which soldiers were authorized to shoot escaping prisoners. According to Lossing's History of the Civil War (1868): "Seventeen feet from the inner stockade was the 'dead-line', over which no man could pass and live."

Be that as it may be, I see the need for a new taxonomy to describe the modern, soft, not-so-dead deadline. Henceforth, dates that can be pushed aside will be referred to as "Hurtlines" (British spelling "Pokeline").

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Smoke and Mirrors

Some folks worry too much. Not because they don't trust that things won't turn out ok or anything, but because they just...need to know everything. Don't get me wrong, the world needs detailed folk like that. Otherwise, how could we trust the label on the cereal box that says, "box packed by weight. Volume may differ because content may have settled?" I'll tell you why! It's because the ultra-detailed have counted the individual cereal flakes. Thus the world is safe for democracy.

But sometimes, one needs a little protection if one becomes a target for said detailed folk. I've since developed this handy Gantt chart as a first line of defense.
I've found that flashing this on my screen and saying, "oh yeah, we're right along addressing resource constraints on critical path and exactly at runrate completion percentages," makes these folk walk away with a dreamy look of satisfaction. Give it a whirl!



Thursday, August 24, 2006

Deep Thoughts

Why do you run, Hideo?

Because it feels so dang good to stop.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Live Long and Prosper and Prosper and Prosper

Talk about a rich guest line-up! Bill Clinton, Lance Armstrong, and Coolio all played at the company Las Vegas conference. Bill Clinton in particular, had the air of elder statesman, and his words carried the weight of experience. And his secret service folk carried the weight of concealed sub-machine guns with armor piercing rounds.

The coup de grace though, was the suprise appearance of Dr. Spock playing his Leonard Nimoy alter ego. Don't get me wrong, as any hi-tech working male in his 30s, I totally ate the performance up. You da man, Spock! Save them whales, baby! I remember the standing O that he got more than what the preceding speech contained, actually...

Be that as it may -- I know he rakes in cash just by saying his trademark phrase and flashing that hand gesture; but I wonder if a small piece of himself doesn't cringe into a ball and jab itself with sharp psychic stakes every time he accepts payment for standing on stage with the pointy-ear prothesis and uttering those immortal words?

Benevolent Brother

The geniuses in the bowels of the engineering labs gave all 15,000 of us radio-frequency ID tags to wear at Las Vegas. I guess you need this kind of thing when you're tracking attendance for that many people, and I applaud the ingenuity of the system. How cool is it that it knows which sessions I attended and that it generates feedback forms only for those?

But then I got to thinking. I hope it only tracks attendance, and not my whereabouts?

Picture a scene in Command Bunker 251. "Hmm..I see that employee#68034 is spending an inordinate amount of time in Stall 2 of the 3rd floor restroom. And the frequency! Three times in the past hour! He has either had too much celebratory imbibements the evening before, or perhaps we would be wise to avoid what he ordered for dinner last nite. In any case, we should enlist employee#68034 in any appropriate sanitation requirements in said stall."

Friday, August 11, 2006

on a more serious note...

Airflight these days is mass transit -- I'd put as much thought into hopping on a flight as I would to hop on a bus to the next city. Actually less, even, because I have no idea where the closest Greyhound station is nor where I can buy a ticket.

So it really rattles me when these bombing-attempt things hit the news. It just jars me abruptly awake; things that I take for granted is no longer so. It's the emotional equivalent of your parents sitting you down and saying, "Son, we think you're ready to hear this. You're really the heir to Tasmandia, and your people want you back. Oh by the way, your rent is due."

Tuesday, me, and 12,000 of my closest friends fly into Nevada for a massive conference. We'll all go thru the heightened security and rigorous checkpoints, and converge from multiple points on the globe. I think the latest security rule is: no liquids. Pretty soon, we'll be required to take sleeping pills so we're out cold and can't cause mischief. No Consciousness Allowed. But I'm not complaining. Here's hoping that we all have a safe and uneventful transit!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Ponder that, yo

I can almost see the metaphorical lightbulb go off in her head. A moment ago, a tough question stumped the speaker into an unsteady silence. But stumped no more!

"It's behavioral stuff that's the bread, and not the peanut butter, and explodes in a viral fashion!"

Heads nod sagely throughout the meeting room. The light cast by the projector add dramatic shadow and contrast to their faces.

I'm confused. That statement conjures up images of a sandwich left out in the sun too long, perhaps at a picnic. Worse, I picture myself eating that tidbit, and experiencing the subsequent "explosion in viral fashion" in my digestive tract.

But I don't wanna look dumb. So I nod sagely too.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

So that's how it eats

My daughter has those nauseatingly adorable Hello Kitty things on almost everything she owns. Pencils, pillowcases, backpacks, shoes, shirts, toothbrushes, bug spray, you name it, it's there. I've always been somewhat troubled with that stylized cat, and now I can place my finger on exactly what it was. In every depiction, Hello Kitty does not have a mouth. How does that thing eat?

Now with this drawing, I know! And I can once again sleep at night...

Friday, July 28, 2006

Narnia Other Door Please


As I wandered around looking for a conference room to commandeer for the morning, I noticed a mysterious addition to the floor. Now that I think of it, there were some Workplace Resource types milling about and changing signage to conference rooms and closets.

Where there was once signage for a Janitor Closet, an ominous sounding Field Productivity sign took its place. I remember what the closet used to look like -- identical in size to a nook one would find in his/her (diversity in writing good. subliminal training sinking in. suddenly want to drink more Coke) home wherein one would store a mop, a broom, and perhaps a duster or two. But now! Field Productivity! I asked around but no one seems to know what the new room is for. All they know is that the room seems to get heavier traffic near quarter end. And rumor has it that salesfolk who visit the Productivity Closet, tend to emerge a superstar...or not at all.

Monday, July 24, 2006

River Runs Thru It

I dunno why, but I really can't stay awake on planes. Try as I may, I rarely stay up past the announcement of the Very Important Announcement that explains all the safety features on the Airbus 319. On this flight, I got up to the part of the floatation device and the pull-cord, but blacked out during the demonstration. To this day, I'm not sure what the pull-string does. Since we'd be hurtling toward the sea at roughly 300 mph, I imagine that I'd pull the string and out pops a mini-bottle of Wild Turkey. Who knows? Not I.

Falling asleep is a good thing, and I don't mind; it's the perfect way to wile away the hours on a long flight. Every now and then though, when I'm totally out (out out as in REM sleep mode during Derivative Pricing class), my jaws go slack, and my mouth falls agape like a trapdoor. This used to be problematic on road trips with friends because I'd become a target for three-pointers using airline peanuts. That was a long time ago -- planes don't serve peanuts anymore. At any rate, the peanuts were helpful in that it prevented me from staying in mouth-agape-out-cold mode. These days, with no one to roust me, my mouth stays open. And sometimes (like 15 minutes ago), I wake up with a start as a stream of drool curls around the corner of my mouth. I usually catch these stealthy streams before it has a chance to go very far (foiled again! would've gotten away with it if it weren't for you pesky kids!), but today, the NORAD defense systems did not kick in on time. The dribble ran unabated past my chin before I was able to wake up. Worst part is, I instinctively tried to recover the errant stream with a sluuuurrrrrpt sound, but did nothing more than attract attention to myself. I imagined that everyone was looking my way, music scratching to an abrupt halt in a old time western saloon as the Stranger rides into town. For about 15 minutes, I stay motionless with my eyes closed, hoping that when I do open my eyes, I won't find the lady next to me pointing and laughing...

But life in the airplane returns to normal, and I sit in seat 10C writing this blog.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

What's in a Name?

Dashing to a meeting, I ran into an exec from my new department. I'm awful with names, as an earlier post illustrates. I sat there for an interminable snapshot in time wracking my brain. The funny thing is, I could totally see her email alias floating in my head. I just couldn't remember how to pronounce her name. Her name is spelled "Jere" but I couldn't for the dwindling life of me remember if it's pronounced "Jerry" like Seinfeld or "Jeer" as in what I get for not remembering. So I compromise -- "Good morning Jeeeery."

As polished as she is, there was only the briefest flicker of front-desk-get-me-security before she returned the greeting with perfect pronounciation on my somehwhat harder to remember name...

Part of a Nutritional Breakfast

This morn was the first day I participated in a community runner's group. We got together at 6am, which waking up aside, was refreshing -- especially given the utterly ridiculous children's-toys-melting-on-the-asphalt weather we've been having.

The exercise-induces endophrines were short-lived however. In my haste to get my butt out of bed this morn, I had forgotten to pack my shower shoes; those cheap rubber flip-flop beach sandals often worn, well, on the beach. Why does that matter? Well, if you have to ask, then you have never had the pleasure of utilizing a public shower facility. Picture the delectable sensation of running one's toes through the fragrant mildewy slime on the bottom of a trash bin that has been sitting outside with the remnants of last week's dinner party. Yum! That's why shower shoes. ..

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Whatchoo lookin' at???

Reminds me of the expression a fellow commuter had on her face as she looked up from her Blackberry and saw the tail end of a Mustang veer across her bumper.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Guru on High

Ok so I'm a food 'ho. Buy me a Chik-Fil-A (We Didn't Invent the Chicken, Just the Chicken Sandwich) and I will arrive at the meeting 1 hour early and help set up the room. I'm also pretty non-picky with what I eat - call me equal opportunity.

But last nite, I met the Masta. Well not met, actually, as I was too in awe to speak. The halo of greatness was just too blinding.

There I was, back in the bustling metropolis of Raleigh. I ordered room service - a reuben sandwich with fries. Couldn't finish the dang thing, so I shoved the tray thru the door and gave it no further thought. A few hours later, got a hankerin' for some coffee so I meandered down to the lobby for a fix. As I was leaving, I saw that the remnants of my meal was still in the hallway. I get my coffee and head back to my room for an exciting night of white-knuckled adrenaline pumpin' email cleanup. That's when I saw him. Youngish guy, about my age, but perhaps 20 or so pounds heavier. Untucked, slightly greasy looking button-down flopping defiantly over a tech company giveaway tshirt. He reached down to my leftovers, picked out a french fry, and popped it into his mouth. "ugh mustard. I hate mustard," he muttered. He then adjusted the strap on his laptop case, and strode casually down the hall. And like a cowboy riding into the sunset, the mystery stranger shuffled down the dim hotel hallway. I stood for a moment in awed silence, with only the flickering
flourecents witness to this cosmic moment...

This my friends, is why I travel.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Metamucil

Fourth of July fireworks...

These things typically start with lots of pomp and anticipation beforehand, but are real slow to get started. This one was scheduled to start at 9:30pm. Five minutes after the scheduled start date, the first poof goes up in a brilliant shower of red and greens. Then...silence. Three minutes later, a second one goes up. Equally pretty. But then more silence. Another three minutes. Then a third, then prolonged silence. The crowd's hushed anticipation gradually changes to murmurs of discontent. If this were a human body, I thought, I would prescribe more dietary fiber.

Suddenly, as though my thoughts of roughage, exercise, and plenty of water were what the doctor ordered, the skies were alight with explosion after explosion of intense colors and light! And after one mighty prolonged burst of shells, the crowd erupts in applause, sighs in contentment and the show is over.

Happy Independence Day!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

On the Shrink's Couch

Something about UK that always psyches me out. I wrote about this little complex almost a year ago -- but that was only when one British colleague was visiting San Jose. Today, I'm the visitor. And that magnifies and intensifies the inferiority complex.

Flashback to several hours ago to a Proudly Serving Starbucks pseudo coffee bar:

"Tall coffee, room for cream, thank you," I say.
"Pardon?" asks the barista
"Um, tall coffee, room for cream?" I reply, suddenly self-conscious.
"Come again?"
"(ah of course, perhaps they refer by cup size) Oh, a 16oz please"
"eh?"
"(how silly of me, I need to convert to metrics!) Sorry, I meant a 14.72 cubic cm coffee please."
"...???"

Finally, a bemused local colleague steps in to save me.

"16oz coffee, mate. Cheerio."
"Brilliant, here you go! Cheers!."

Mark my words, one day, I shall learn their secret handshake.

Monday, June 26, 2006

The 100 yard stare

Zzzzzz. Got into London at 6:30am. Stood in the customs queue forever, amongst throngs of ripe-smelling, irritable, summer vacationers. Once that was done, waited another 30min for the Hotel Hoppa, checked in to the hotel, napped, overslept (1hr planned, 3hr actual), showered, and headed for the office.

I chugged a can of Red Bull and chased that with a espresso, right before the meeting. Nice buzz. But hardly alert. It gave me a crazy spinning adrenaline feeling, but with only a blip of mental activity behind it. I had a persistent anxiety feeling, like those cartoon characters that know that the 400lb iron is about to fall on their head, but hoping really hard that it won't happen this time. The wide-eyed, zoned out look was reflective of that. Or so I thought.

"Hideo, your look tells me that you're not convinced. How about if I lay these data points in front of you....Still no? What if I said the cost is half of what's on this slide? No? How about if time to execution is shaved by a week?"

I didn't hear a single word the vendor was saying. But apparently we drove a hard bargain.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Be Still My Beating Heart

From a company benefits mailer I received this morn.

========
Dear HIDEO,

As a recent user of the TRP, we want to make you aware of upcoming enhancements that will provide you with a faster and easier process for submitting your applications and requesting your reimbursements! Here are the exciting enhancements you will see effective July 5, 2006:

New Fax Number:

New Processing Request Form:

=========

Even one of these by itself is cause for irrational exuberance...but BOTH a new fax number and new form???

Madness! Pure Madness I say!

I am all a-tingle with excitement!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Food for Thought

Quote heard on the morning radio:

"I like pastries, but dead animals rule!"

I dunno why, but that conjures up images of Denver to me.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Father's Day Gifts

Yesterday was father's day, so I got me some goodies from the young'uns. Rei gave me a mousepad that he made himself, which was very nicely done. It came with a worksheet that he had to fill in. Sample: My Dad ________ at work. He filled out: My Dad plays with the computer at work. I was going to correct him, but then I thought hmm...ok good point. Checking World Cup scores probably falls in that category. Playing conference call jargon bingo may cross the line as well. "Cross-functional synergies" BINGO!

My daughter Anna gave me a fridge magnet in the shape of a necktie. However, since she never saw me wear a tie in her 3+ years of consciousness, she thought it was a sock... Reminds me of the last time I wore a tie -- almost 5 years ago as a salesperson in Tokyo. I had fallen asleep on the train, mouth agape, and lurched awake just in time to miss the drool that dripped from the corner of my mouth to my new tie. On second thought, maybe a clean sock is preferable to that.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Whine and Cheese

In Chicago till Wednesday. Great eats town, according to my colleagues, so I'm pretty psyched. Sure the conference was meanigful and all, but now the Main Event. Food! But my elation was short lived. We went to a place called Bin 36, a wine affecianado place. Don't get me wrong, the place was a lively, modern joint. It's just that....ok, I'll just say it. Wine and its rituals terrify me.

I order last in a table of six. Each person sounds like they're Alex Trabek, over-emphsizing and dramatically pronouncing French and pseudo-French words. My palate is not so distinguished nor sophisticated -- color and temperature is as far as I get. Red. White. Cold. Not Cold. When it got to my turn to order, I just stammered, "Um, Ann that, that...thing you ordered? Sounds delightful. I'll have that as well." Even after I drank the white cold wine, I still have no idea what she ordered.

I sat next to another colleague who tried valiantly to give me a crash course. "Suck air in as you sip -- it opens up the wine, " she says. I did, and sucked the damned drink into my lungs and opened up my nasal passages instead. "Lively and light, balanced with pristine minerals vibrant with acidity, right?"she remarked. I can think of some people that fit that description, but as for the wine, all I could think of was, "Yes, it is indeed white. And cold!"

And all this hubub about regions! Mosel-Saar-Ruwer? I know that's in Germany somewhere, but why don't they just say Aisle 3 of the Produce Asile? Heck, *that* is where I would get *my* grapes. There's a special this week ya know.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Web 2.0.1

Have you ever innocently walked into an exec-type's office, only to encounter the Mood Ring on Blood Red, and become the innocent-bystander-hit-by-crossfire?

Worse yet, have you ever done so when the exec-type's ire was due to something you did (or forgot to do)?

Well fret no more!

Thanks to a well-placed special agent with a clear view to exec office, you can now have advanced warning.

Current weather: cloudy with a chance of sun later in the afternoon.

...URGENT ADVISORY...URGENT ADVISORY....

weather has suddenly turned turbulent. High winds, lighting, chance of meterorites.
Advise evacuation from premises.

...URGENT ADVISORY...URGENT ADVISORY....

I call it The Executive Weather Report subscription, available via RSS feed. And all it costs is lunch maybe once a week.

Venture capitalists, take a number and stand in line.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

You're a Really Useful Engine!

Today is the Big Move. All of our furniture is in the old place, so we've been doing the camp thing at our new pad for the past two weeks. Spending the night in sleeping bags and using two upside-down boxes for dining tables is fun for, maybe 2 hours, tops. And those two hours are daylight two hours - stumbling around after dark is no picnic. Primitive cavemen would have discovered fire much sooner if they had flipped the light switch and found the matches in the top drawer. Fossil records and cave drawings confirm this. Be that as it may....Finally, we are about to be welcomed back to civilization. Beds, lights, chairs!

But first, a bit of awkward purgatory.

The movers are here now, doing their moving thing, but I don't quite know what I should be doing. Do I help? No...that's why I hired them. Do I make idle chatter, despite the fact that I despise it when folks do that to me when I'm busy? So I shamble aimlessly from room to room, and end up in the garage. And here is where I type away on my Treo.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Who Knew?

Am I the only one in the room that doesn't know that Laura Mercier is a cosmetic? Was it so dumb a question for me to ask, "Is she the new intern?"

Gotta be better than "Ice Age 2"



I find these Disney ice shows pretty annoying. Don't get me wrong, the kids and I really enjoyed watching the original Pixar film. Again and again and again. I can even recite Mr. Ray, the Manta Ray's little ditty as he sails across the ocean floor.

However, this..this..ice thing is where I draw the line. Let me see..former runner-up Olympians and former hockey players + stuffed animal costumes = pure family fun! Put them on skates and it's so much rapture that it should be used only for medicinal purposes!

Wait, why not take it one step further? Let's re-adapt the concept and do a live-action Nemo film!! We can call it:

"Disney on Ice presents. Finding Nemo: the Movie"

Monday, May 15, 2006

movin' movin' movin', keep them puppies rollin'

We spent the weekend doing a gradual move into our new place. Gradual, because we only moved like 5 miles down the street, and we still haven't sold the old place yet. No time pressure, but still a ton to do.

The young'uns, 6 and 3, had to entertain themselves for most of the day while we painted, cleaned, trimmed, fixed, and collapesed in an exhausted heap.

Here's a partial list of Fun Games for Kids to Play while Parents are Doing Moving Chores:

- Let's Test Daddy's Fuse
- Who Can Push Mommy's Buttons the Fastest
- Don't Touch the Wet Paint Means Go Ahead
- Fingerprint art competition on DVDs
- Hide and Forget -- challenging fun with Tools and Car keys

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Reese's Peanut Butter Cups




(stroking material, walking down the hall oblivious to surroundings)
Ah, my beautiful Coach leather briefcase. Why, it's simply a unique synthesis of magic and logic that stands for quality, authenticity, value and a truly aspirational, distinctive American style.


(carressing the contoured plastic case, also walking down the hall but not paying attention)
Oh, the wonders of my In Focus -- best-in-class capabilities with intuitive controls. Talk about outstanding color saturation and brightness that lasts!

CRASH!

Hey your fine-grained leather...
...in my multimedia projector!

Two great tastes that taste great together. Now featuring the new Coach In Focus projector! Someone brought one of these into a meeting yesterday. Despite the obvious synergy involved in such logical brand extentions, it appears that both Coach and InFocus have discontined their partnership. Misunderstood genius probably. But fret not! I hear that Coach is now trying to fill the void that Disney left when the rodent cartoon company announced its plans to end the tie-in with McDonald's Happy Meals! Imagine -- Double Quarter Pounder with enviro-friendly leather to-go bag.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Ain't that the truth

"Some people change when they see the light, others when that light starts to burn 'em on their arse."

- from a crotchety sales manager I used to work for. I think he added his own color to an existing one, but I still find this phrase to be a valid one...

Monday, May 01, 2006

Read Between the Lines

Ever notice how some people can speak volumes without really conveying anything?

Here's a reply to a question that was asked on a conference call this morning:

"I think we should leverage our organizational strengths to put more wood behind the arrow and to set up a cross-functional virtual team to study how we can better divide and conquer."

Translation:

"I was doing email and didn't hear your question."

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Home Home on the Range


Yesterday, we officially entered into contract to buy a home. I dunno whether to be elated at the victory or apprehensive at the prospect of the larger (urrrgh) mortgage payments. So I opt to nervously stay awake.

Can't beat the neighborhood though. Manicured neighborhood, maintained through the vigilance of the 1984-like HOA Compliance secret police. Kids, it's okay to inform on your parents if they plan on installing pink plastic flamingoes on he front yard; that's evil that should be nipped at the bud, after all -- play along now! A few of the upper management types in my department also live in the same stretch. Granted, my section of the settlement is where their help lives. But given that it's what I am at work, the placement is appropriate, I guess...

Monday, April 24, 2006

Hooligan Parenting 101

Our oldest (six point six years old as he is find of saying) started Tae Kwon Do last year, and he's digging the whole thing. I thought it was kinda cool how he was learning all those little kicks and combos. With my concrete-like flexibility, I can barely kick at my kneecap-level height (oh and I was sore the next day for even attempting to do so); kids on the other hand can easily reach higher than their own heads. Ok, when their heads are only a few feet off the ground, maybe that isn't a big deal. But still!

At any rate, all this calm changed when our son progressed enuf to start doing some sparring. There's really no possibility of getting injured, as the young'uns are fully decked out in padded helmet, chest protector, arm pads and shin guards. The only possible mode of injury would be if someone stepped on them after they fell over on their backs -- the padding is thick enough that some of the smaller kids can't get back up by themselves and rock back and forth like some beached turtle until an adult helps them up. Regardless, this is when we start seeing the Ugly Parent Living Life Vicariously Through Their Unwitting Children syndrome (UPLLVTTUC for short). Parents shout like they're betting at Golden Gloves; "HIT HIM IN THE GUT! NOW HIS GUARD IS DOWN. YEAAAAAAAAHHHH! WHO'S YO' DADDY PUNK"

I was alarmed as we hope to raise our son to be less cutthroat. So I take him aside, kneel down to eye-level and calmly explain, "Rei, as long as we're having a good time, that's all that counts. Now go kick his ass."

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Or you can just stub your toe on a door

We had some friends over for dinner tonite. At one point, we got to talking about injuries and how long things take to heal these days. We kept trying to one up each other in the horrific scale, but I must say that I was hopelessly outclassed. I thought I had a good one with my running aches and pulls, but he came back with fused spinal disks that cause him permanent and cold-sweat pain on a daily basis. Hard to top that.

So I asked how he deals with that kinda thing. Apparently, the typical painkillers were either too addictive or too mentally debilitating (as a programmer, it is considered bad coding posture to lay in a puddle of one's drool over the space key) to take for long. After many fits and starts, he arrived at acupuncture. He and his wife enthusiastically extolled the virtues of this technique. "If it hurts, that means it's working!!" they said. "You only feel pain for like 5 seconds!" they explain. No doubt because the patient probably blacks out from the excruciating pain by then.

After listening to their impromptu seminar, I was able to nutshell the lesson as follows: acupuncture is more painful than any other ailments that you may have. It hurts so damn much that you forget about why you came for an appointment in the first place...

Monday, April 17, 2006

Street Muzak

The unseasonal rainfall over the past 2 months has a bit of a silver lining. Washing away that house of yours so you finally get gumption to move? Or perhaps getting a little much-needed exercise in as you push your slog through the shoe-sucking mud to the mailbox? No, something much more mundane.

You see, nice weather means we start rolling down the windows as we drive. In free-moving traffic, there's a sense of release to feel the inrush of the hot, dry California air. However, there is no such thing as free-moving traffic in San Jose. We have fast-moving parking lots in lieu of freeways. Ok, not so bad if you have your own set of tunes to keep you company. If you forgot, fret not! There are always those who'd like to share with their fellow commuters. For some reason, these generous sharers seem to favor either pickup trucks, SUVs, Mustangs, or beat-up Civics. They don't want anyone to miss out, so they considerately boost the base so that one not only hears the music, but feels it as well. It resonates with one's body and gives one's teeth and skull a pleasant hum, and has even been known to loosen the bowels.

And the musical selection offered by these acoustic dignitaries will please any discerning palate. At a long traffic light yesterday, I pulled next to a blue 1995 Civic with big, fat exhaust pipes. The gentleman clad in mirrored sunglasses and a hairnet was blasting Muzak at a Spinal Tap Ours-Goes-to-Eleven volume. I wanted to glance over, but this bland re-mixed instrumental of Madonna's "Papa Don't Preach" throbbing through the windshield bespoke one thing -- don't make eye contact; look straight ahead and keep driving. This guy was obviously a playa; no need to be poseuer and blast rap. I'm so bad, I make elevator music sound ominous! Who da man? You are!!! The light turned green, and we drove into our separate evenings.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

And You Thought Your Day was Bad: Postcards from the Edge

A memo from a college buddy:

> Listen,
>
> The other day I had to take a shit in Lowes (like a Home Depot) so I
> went into the bathroom to do my thing...more than a 2-wiper...and when
> I looked for the toilet paper there was none...not in the primary role
> nor the back-up. I looked at the placement of the role holder and
> figured I could reach the one in the next stall if I reached up and
> under...so I got on my knees (pants down still) and with my face
> pressed up against the stall wall tried to reach to the next
> side...nothing there either! And while I was down there, an employee
> came in to wash up...must have seen something because I made a small
> comotion trying to get back into position and could see him through
> the stall door cracks, and he was constantly looking at my stall.
> Eventually (4 minutes) he left. The only thing I had to clean up with
> was the paper Stacey sent me to the store with for ordering rugs
> (brand, dimensions, price, color), so I spent the next 2 minutes
> trying to memorize the info then sacrificed the paper for a partial
> clean. After I made sure the bathroom was clear, I 1/2 pulled my
> pants up, scurried out of the stall to the 3rd one away, filled up on
> TP, then shot back to my stall.
>
> Why does this stuff always seem to happen to me?
>
> talk to you soon,
> MSR

Friday, April 07, 2006

united we stand, dammit

It has been uncharacteristically rainy in my neck of the woods. Like mudslide and floods rainy. But there's one segment of the population who's hardier than the rest of us - they scoff in the face of a little squall. Yes, the smokers!

They flee in packs from the draconian Californian anti-smoking laws (as one upstanding colleague from the American South once said, civilized men *chew* tobacco), and huddle outside for mutual protection. Rain or shine, this virtual United Nations (my random sampling revealed that most are coworkers visiting from Europe or Asia) stoically defend their rights and puff away. The rain only seems to strengthen their solidarity and resolve. Go hug your trees, Californians, we shall overcome! Their baleful glances flashed from the hazy canopy underneath their umbrellas make me self-conscious and somewhat ashamed. A short time ago, I too was a smoking apartheidist. Smokers deserve to be the modern-day lepers, I thought! But my trips abroad changed my worldview. Outside the US, as a matter of fact, non-smokers are the outcasts. Over there, I was the one huddled outside in the drizzling rain. Go take your filthy non-smoking ways outside this establishment! We don't want our kids to be exposed to your non-smoke!

So tomorrow, my brothers of the tarred lung, I shall join your cause! I don't smoke, but I will breathe deep of the SUV exhaust permeating our green-conscious Californian parking lot, and we shall embrace, sing Kum-baya, and hack up phlegm together!.

Monday, April 03, 2006

How Wars Start

From an IM exchange with a co-worker:

KM: "gotcha -- will contact vendor to f/u dollar transaction"

::bing::

me" "cool -- thanks for the f/u as always"

::bing::

A very innocuous exchange. But a month ago, I didn't know that the shorthand f/u stood for "Follow Up," and had assumed that it stood for something...different.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Fortune Cookie

I signed up to get random quotes emailed to me. Most of the time my overly aggressive spam filter puts these in the delete bin along with notes from other dubious sources like say, from my mother. Every now and then, one slips through the vigilant digital sentries.

I consider these lucky few to be kind of an electronic Magic-8 Ball or a virtual fortune cookie.

Yesterday, I got this:

--------

"No one travelling on a business trip would be missed if he failed to arrive. "

Thorstein Veblen
US economist & social philosopher (1857 - 1929)

--------

Hmm. Guess I should count my blessings that I didn't go with my boss(es) last week on the Moscow-Beijing trip. I was bummed that I missed out on the $300, 5 day express locomotive trip between the two cities. Especially since they upgraded to a much cleaner-burning coal engine last season.

Monday, March 27, 2006

West Coast Choppers..Cares

Denver International Airport, catching a SooperShuttle to the office. A SooperShuttle, by the way, is a subsidiary of Jimbo's Driving School ("I'm not a licensed driver, but I play one on TV") and is a very economical way to get from the airport to many popular destinations. Like into another car's bumper or the local hospital, whatever suits your fancy.

It's about a 45 minute drive from DIA to the meeting venue, so i just sat back and took in the sights. The looming Rocky mountain panorama was impressive, but there really was nothing distinctive nor compelling about the immediate landscape -- strip malls and cinderblock office buildings galore. I guess it didn't help that this huge slab of man was blocking my view. This guy was straight outta the show American Choppers; buzz cut, square diamond studs, and dark, dark shades. Then I saw the tattoo. I strained to make out the Japanese characters -- hard to get a clear view as his bulldog-like neck rolls distorted the words. I think it may have spelled out "Kichi-gai," which means "Crazy." However, that tattooist seemed to have made a small error on the second character. Instead of "Kichi-gai" the word read "Kizu-kai," which is more about caring for one's guests and hospitality. I didn't have the courage to ask.

But as I write this, I'm thinking, perhaps I have been too quick to judge. Maybe, just maybe, Caring and Hospitality is what bikers are about these days. Just as New York City changed its slogan from "Up Yours" to "Your City," who's to say that scary biker types aren't doing a PR makeover?

Monday, March 20, 2006

Will Work for Food


We had a going away lunch for two folks on my team. It was at an Italian joint, so it was almost mandatory that someone order a pizza as an appetizer. I scarfed through my portion, and left a graveyard of crusts piled three deep. I dunno why I do that. After all, I usually end up eating the crusts too at some point.

Upon introspection, I realized that this neurosis stems from my penniless college days. I would spend many a weeknight hovering around my rich friends' rooms and peppering them with "Ya gonna finish that crust? Huh are ya? Are ya?" until they gave in and threw me a bone. Deep in my psyche, I had vowed that one, day it would be *I* who would be dispensing crusts. It is *I* who would be savoring the marrow of mozzarella and basil -- I would then grant the rest to the financially challenged around me! So to me, the fact that I don't have to eat my crusts is a manifestation of a dream, many years in the making. I have arrived. I am Big Time.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Great (eye)Balls of Fire

Periodic eye exam time. Got Lasik a little over a year ago, and it was time for my checkup. Incidentally, if you haven't had this done, let me tell you that it is a fairly inncoulous procedure and no more threatening than accidentally shaving one's eyeball in the morning.

At any rate, Intern Bob came in to do some preliminary tests on my eye before the Doc came around to my examination room. Intern Bob (only using his first name, and not the full Bob Goodward name as to protect his identity) was clearly nervous.

me: "Hi there Bob"

Bob: (glancing down at my file) "um, hello...Hadoo"

me: "Hideo. Pronounced He-day-oh. No biggie, people screw it up all the time."

Bob: "oh sorry! Let me see, you're here for Lasik surgery. Let me explain the procedure, Hadoo..."

me: "It's He-day-oh. And I had that last year. This is just my annual checkup"

Bob: "..right. Did you remember to take your contacts out?"

me: "NO! Look, I don't need surgery!"

Bob: (stunned silence, then starts flipping madly through my file) "...wha? Yes. Yes, of course....only a checkup."

We proceed to the next room where all the test equipment is located. Intern Bob's nerves were in full flare now. His forehead had a shiny sheen of sweat and his fingers seemed to tremble. Which of course, is comforting when that person is jiggery-pokering around in one's eye orbits. All said and done, the tests themselves went off without a hitch.

Or so I thought.

The first thing the Doc said upon reading Intern Bob's scribbled notes was, "Hideo, are you sure you're feeling all right? Any pain? Anything odd...like blood spurting in random intervals from your sockets?" Turns out that Intern Bob aimed a bit too high with the eye pressure machine and took readings of my forehead...

Words of Wisdom

Annoying forms and templates are less annoying if you're the one to define and impose that annoyance on others.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Inspector, we have a motive

Not enuf time to eat a lunch today. I expected as much, so I had the foresight to pack a lunch. Nothing special really, just one of those canned soup deals where you open up in a container, heat up, and you're good to go. As long as you don't accidentally pick up the Alpo dog food can, you're golden. Although the canned Cattle Drive Chili with Beans is awfully hard to tell the diff just by looking at the label , or even by opening the can for that matter .

At any rate, there I was , 12:45pm. I'm in the breakroom, can of soup in hand and plastic container to heat it up in. But. I forgot to bring a damned can opener. And there's none in the breakroom. Not on the fourth, not on the third, not on the second. I will not eat them Sam I am. Desperate, I jammed a metal scissor into the top of the can. At first, only a dent. Then eventually, a small puncture. I got the metal hole a bit wider, to maybe the width of a pencil. End result was I got all the watery crud in the Ziplok EZheat container, but all the meat and veggies were still stuck in the can. I noticed that my technique added some extra minerals to the mix -- there were metal scrapings, either from the can or my cheap industrial scissors ($2.95 at OfficeMax) floating on top...

It was already almost 1pm and time for my next meeting; no time to even raid the candy machine.

So for all those in my afternoon meetings, sorry! It wasn't you or your comments that I was ranting at, it was at the Fates themselves!! But you happen to be easier to reach.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Deep Thoughts at 4 in the morning

New species or French hoax.

You decide:

(and no, I can't fall back to sleep. Thanks for asking)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Why I Love Travel: Pt Two

Dialogue with stony-faced receptionist, Johan, of the Holiday Inn Ijmuiden Seaport Beach.

me: "pardon me but may I have an English room service menu?"
Johan (annoyed at this egregious intrusion on his time): "The menus are written in both Dutch and English"
me: "no they're not"
Johan: "Oh yes they are"
me: "hmm..let me check again. Let's see...nope. Can't read it. Therefore not English."
Johan: (huffs thru his nose disdainfully that I cannot make out the menu items, then gives me the English one from behind his desk) "so you are right"

one hour later...

me: "may I borrow a power adapter for my US plugs?"
Johan: (reaches behind counter and dumps a box of cords and miscellaneous adapters and plugs in front on him.) "here"
me: "um...which one?"
Johan: "I don't know. Try some."
me: (grabbing a handful) "okay"

15 minutes later...

me: "none of these fit your power sockets."
Johan: "yes, that's correct"
me:" why on earth do you keep them then?"
Johan" "someone may need one"
me: "where can I get one to power my laptop???"
Johan: "I don't know. Good day."

5am, seat 30A

On my way to Amsterdam. I've been avoiding long road trips like the plague, but this one caught up to me. It's not the destination, as these trips are usually intense and productive. It's simply because I always seem to pick up a cold on the airplane.

This time, however, I am prepared. I already have bronchitis - my germs will eat the common cold bug for lunch! Bring it on! Apologies in advance to those unfortunate enuf to share a row with me though.

Reminds me of the most unpleasant ad hoc travel companion I ever had. A couple of years ago, I was on a layover in Dallas. I sat next to a big Texan guy munching on a Valu-pak extra-large bag of peanuts. Upon settling down, putting my trays in the upright position and stowing my carry-ons under the seat in front of me, the gentleman drawls,"Ever notice how these give ya gas?"

Friday, February 24, 2006

Hibernation



This morning, I was griping about the weather in San Jose dipping down to the low 40s ( 7 degrees Celcius). After an incredulous pause, I was informed that in his neck of the woods, it rarely gets *up* to that temperature. In his mountain city of Denver, it got down to -15 degrees (-26 C) last week. If high school science class memory serves, that is roughly the temperature at which fire freezes. And the snow! Every now and then I gotta get a reminder why we moved from NY -- that snow and winter is so much better when seen on a postcard as opposed to appearing in one's driveway.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Simplicity Rules!

I remember a couple of years ago, we'd actually use things like "words" and "sentences" to communicate with colleagues in the company. Today, we've dispensed with such primitive tools and have come to rely exclusively on PowerPoint picture slides to get our points across. No one reads Word or Excel anymore -- those are so 2003! PowerPoint rules every bit of our lives -- in fact, my son's kindergarten teacher sent progress reports via the .ppt extention.

It's most prevalent at work, however. No more, "Good Morning, Bill" as we pass in the halls. Now we just flash a slide of a sunrise casting its rays across a bucolic spring landscape. So much more pleasant! So much more conveyed!

But I sense the winds of change are a'blowing again. Even this talk-via-slides culture is too complex and can benefit from rationalization. Thankfully, the wizards in Redmond are hard at work for the next upgrade to the Microsoft Office Suite -- Microsoft HandPuppet 2006!

Friday, February 17, 2006

And Don't Slouch When I'm Talking to You

New fangled technology. Today, the company passed out a bunch of little webcams as a test of personal-level video conferencing. So the idea is, if I pick up the phone and the coworker on the other side has the same setup, a popup of the person's picture instantly pops up on my screen. And the picture quality is like watching a movie; super sharp and real time. Pretty neat. It also supports multi-user video conferencing. I haven't used it yet, but I imagine it'll look like this.

Inevitably the initial Christmas new-toy feel wore off. The little globular webcam perched on my monitor now seems to be LOOKING at me constantly. Am I working on that budget excel, or am I really checking sports scores? The Webcam knows. Am I ignoring that phone call and pretending to be away so I can eat my sandwich? The Webcam knows. And its blinky green LED expresses its disapproval.

I suspect that the little bugger will send a silent scream for help were I to move it from atop my monitor to a more convenient locale -- the back of my third desk drawer where the empty CD cases, dried-out ballpoint pens, leftover plastic forks and packs of ketchup are haphazardly stored. But it is too late. Even if the compliance gremlins come knocking to check up on the little web-Snitch, I have an almost indistinguishable copy to take its place on the monitor!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Good to see ya


Pretty cool how this thing can show where folks are coming from! Also pretty spooky that clicking on the image allows me to track down to where my visitors park their cars in the morning. Hey, you in Delhi, you forgot to lock your door. There, much better. You're welcome.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Trim Away

One of the more fascinating aspects of my job involves reviewing and providing feedback on marketing material prior to it being sent out in postcards that get thrown away or via emails that get deleted. I must've done a thousand of these in the past year, but rarely do I get comments on my feedback. Typically, I get a "thanks for the notes. We'll make sure that we take these into account" email, but never anything specific. I started to suspect that no one reads these things. As annoying as that would be, it would also be a relief -- in the future, I could just sit on these requests, reply back with a Looks Good, and be secure in the knowledge that no one would have read 'em anyway. But I needed proof before I could act!

About a week ago, I reviewed a stack of material and made my usual comments. But as part of my commentary, I put in a line that read,"Photo of man on his laptop needs to have excessive nose hair photoshopped out." I had forgotten all about that until today. Sometime after lunch, my instant messenger came to life with a message from my marketing communications colleague: Great catch! she wrote. So which nostril are we talking? After writing back something incoherent about how excessive nose hair has been linked with fatty foods and partaking of too much grain alcohol, I sheepishly logged off. My faith in the system is renewed! Someone does read these things!

Denial and Acceptance

I have a secret that I've been harbouring. Others have been looked down upon or even ostracized because of this weakness; in fact, I often joined in with the mob, hoping that it would deflect suspicion from me. But it never felt right. I always felt guilty for not being able to be like all the other folks out there. I think it's time I admitted it. I...I love 80's music!!!

Back in college, I'd listen to Classic Rock from the 70s, which was considered cool. Sure, I dug Led Zeppelin, Steely Dan, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Derek and the Dominoes and CCR, but they never really *meant* anything to me. After all, hearing those tunes didn't hearken me back to a younger, more innocent age. I suppose it could have, if I tried hard enough. But that would have harkened me back to a really young and innocent age -- heavy diapers and all-day naps. So I stashed 80's mixes in my sock drawer. After waking up at the crack of noon, I would secretly pop in the contraband cassette tapes in my wobbly walkman, and go for a run.

Fast forward to present. Now that 20 years have gone by, I think I can confidently load up those same 80's tunes on my iPod. It is, after all, Classic Rock now, no? Granted, I still feel the need to wear a cloak of conformity. You have to dig way deep in my play list of modern U2, Death Cab for Cutie, and Maroon 5 to find the Sarah McLachlan, Journey, and Cars songs. One day, though, I'm gonna proudly wear my Def Leppard shirt to work on casual Friday. Torn off sleeves and Top Gun Ray-Ban glasses and all!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

It Depends

ow. ow. ow. mornin' John. ow. ow. ow. Hey Bob, didya get my mail? ow. ow. ow.

It is now 72 hours after my Sunday mechanical malfunction. I was running in a half marathon in San Francisco. Beautiful day, did some stretching, felt great. Then right past mile 7, my right foot sorta just started feeling numb. I thought I could just tough it out for the rest of the distance, but the numb turned into an ache, the ache into a obscenity-spewing roadside stop. Alas, my race ended far short of the 13.1 miles required to finish.

The thing is, I think I injured myself. It still hurts to walk. Worst part is, the painful jolts of electricity I feel whenever I push off on my right foot is causing me to walk funny. How so? Well, picture a two-year old that has had experienced an...accident. See how he waddles? That's me (Hey buddy, you obviously need to use the restroom more than me -- go right on ahead).

At any rate, I'm going to get this thing X-rayed on Friday. Hope I didn't break anything.

Monday, February 06, 2006

The Day After XL

So the Super Bowl has come and gone. I was totally not into the game this year as I have zero affinity for either team -- I'd have to dig way deep into the Seven Degrees of Separation game to see if I even know anybody from Pittsburgh, or has actually been a Seattle fan for longer than say, this year.

Gotta tell you though; the ads this year were inspired.

The FedEx one made me laugh out loud initially, but ended up gnawing away at my psyche for the rest of the evening.

FedEx Commercial:

Caveman: But..but FedEx hasn't been invented yet!
Boss Caveman: Not my problem
Caveman: (walks outside, gets stomped by dinosaur)

Juxtapose that for a moment, with some scenes from next week's exciting episode of HideoWork:

Cubeman: But..but I don't have budget
Boss Corporate: Not my problem
Cubeman: (walks onto presenter dais, gets stomped by salespeople)

Maybe I should try harder to identify with one of those BudLight ads instead.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Ms. Etiquette: Polite Vulture Hints

Right around lunchtime, I saw a memo pop onto my screen: "food available in the Casablanca conference room." There was some other text in there, but I didn't bother reading it. After all, as soon as that memo went out, other vultures and scavengers would be converging onto the conference room for a piece of the corporate carrion. I was the first one to arrive. The door was closed, but since I knew that the meeting was cancelled (hence the free food. It was too soon to cancel the catering), I just burst right in.,,,

And found my boss. And her boss. Engaged in an intense conversation, grave looks on their faces. Like in an old-style western where the stranger waltzes in through the saloon entrance, it was as if the music abruptly came to a stop and all patron eyes were cast at the interloper. Hello, I say, as I tug nervously at my collar. Hello, they say. At this point, I'm already committed. Just as I cannot half-puke or half-sneeze, once that trigger is pulled, there's no turning back. I had to make that sandwich. As I put together the bread, and the meat, and the vegetables, my fingers trembled. The mustard and mayo pattern on the coldcuts betrayed my unease -- no clean lines of condiment here; just some quick squeezes on the disposable packets that got more on the table than on my meal. We sell VoIP gear here, but in those awkward moments, I could sense, in 5-bar signal quality, the communication mechanism of the future. No more of this Voice over IP thing. It will be Voice over Eyeball Penetration (VoEP). Thankfully, a colleague made the same blunder and burst into the room. I took that opening as a way to make my graceful exit, and left her to experience VoEP.

I must add that the sandwich and BBQ potato chips were good though.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Nintendo or PC version?


Photo from a school buddy.

Does it make me old skool, or just a dork, if I'm expecting geometric shapes to come falling from the skies?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Public Safety



this morning, I noticed shiny new laminated signs lovingly placed on the restroom doors.

"Severe Weather Safety Area"

Call me crazy, but in the event of a hurricane, I think I'll take my chances outside...

Friday, January 20, 2006

Tofu-Bologne

It's not half as bad as you may think. Which of course is still pretty bad if your imagination is more vivid than mine.

Be that as it may, let it not be said that my culinary habits cannot change to incorporate healthy alternatives! Today, my eyes were opened to the fact that with the right condiments -- mustard, mayo, lettuce, tomato, quarter-pound hamburger patty, fried onion ring, and a side of french fries -- tofu bologne is very much edible.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Robitussen


One of the staple foods in my daily routine is the humble microwave popcorn. There's an endless supply of gratis genetically engineered goodness in the office breakroom, so I find myself gorging every now and then.

Thing is, those kernels have an uncanny habit of lodging in my throat on the most inopportune moments -- like just when I'm about to deliver a rousing discourse on the merits of using semicolons in marketing copy.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Yo GAHHH

This morn, I attended my first yoga class. Impetus for this came from my last physical. Cardiovascular and strength-wise, I did okay; slightly better than the norm for my age range. On flexibility though, there was a bit left to be desired. The doc had me sit down and put my feet against a metal box about 1 meter long (for folks on US units, that's 6.82 hotdogs). On the topside of the box, gradients were marked off. The idea was for me to stretch as far as I could, and the doc would see where on the box my fingertips could reach. Since I can't touch my toes, that particular exercise didn't fare well. The doc, after realizing that it wasn't due to my lack of English comprehension that I didn't commence (actually I did, but I was DONE already), furrowed his brow and sagely proclaimed that I had the flexibility of a 60 year old male. To make me feel better, he added that maybe it was for a Robust 60 year old male.

Taking that as a New Year's resolution thing, I signed up for Yoga.

The instructor was totally authentic -- had the look of an enlightened guru-type that spent years subsisting on nothing more than water and nan bread. He also spoke like Yoda, in that his instructions were delivered in grammatically backward English. This also added to the Authentic Indian Yoga experience:

"Stretch you will, and pain you may feel"

He interspersed his direction with the expected effects of each pose, which the class and I found very informative.

"Daily you practice, constipated you will not be"

Good to know. Thanks.

Incidentally, it is now 5 hours after I attended this class, and my back and legs are SORE.

Monday, January 16, 2006

all I want for Christmas...

Rei lost his first baby tooth yesterday. He was chattering away about how the tooth fairy is gonna help him stick it to the Man and make him rich, but he was a little hard to understand because of the air whistling through the newly formed gap. Because of this, it caused some issues at bedtime. "tooth fairy is a'coming" sounded more like "too scary is a'coming" and caused Anna to stay up terrified for a good hour past bed time...

Friday, January 13, 2006

Thank you HAL

As a newly minted graduate, I gained access to the school's Alumni Website.

Eager to look up former grads that I know or work with, I registered and signed on.

I dutifully tapped in my name, address, garduation date, etc, and pressed the register button.

"Welcome Hideo, class of '05", it said. Thank you, polite website, I think to myself.

I looked at the What's New section and noted that the site now has the capability to link Friends and Friends-of-Friends together in a seven-degrees-of-separation kind of way. Cool, I think, and click on the link.

"Hideo, You currently have No Friends" the website states.

Taunted by mere lines of code, I sigh dejectedly.

Tomorrow, perhaps, someone will let me sit with the Cool Kids at the virtual school cafetrial lunch table.

Until then, I sign off and carry on with this loverly 13th of Friday workday.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Tagging is the New Black

ack, tagged! I've got a bit of a writer's block going; I've been staring lifelessly at the flickering glow of my LCD screen, willing my work to complete itself. So...this tag is a welcome diversion/procrastination.

What were you doing 10 years ago?
Roughly 10 years anyway. Fresh out of University, just completed a degree in Eng Physics -- that's Nukleeer as George Bush Jr. pronounces it. I've entered a field directly related to my studies: Sales! And telesales no less! Parents un-thrilled. Creditors also un-thrilled.

What were you doing 1 year ago?
Ha! Turns out that there's no market for Nukleer types as defense spending dried up in the early 1990s. As careers go, moved from telesales to channel sales, then to marketing about 5 years ago. School debts paid off; both parents and creditors off my back. Feeling that I am getting too much sleep, delved into night classes.

Five snacks you enjoy
Salty, Fatty, Sweet, Fried, and various combos thereof. Deep Fried Mars bars in Scotland is something that I must try beofre I die. Though that will likely be the cause of my death.

Five songs to which you know all the lyrics
Thomas the Tank Engine
Alphabet song (ok, I know all the letters)
I'm a Little Teapot
Baa Baa Black Sheep
Thunder Road (so sad that this is the only one of *my* songs that I can recall verbatum)

If I had one million dollars?
I'd buy a plot of land large enough to park my bicycle. I live in California, ya know. We measure housing pricing and land in terms of deaths: "Hmm, that nice fixer-upper is a steal at 3.2 life insurance payouts!"

Five bad habits:
1. email! This is an addiction. I get nervous when I'm on vacation like I'm gonna be all Rip Van Wrinkle when I return. As if I'm that important in the scheme of things.
2. Driving before coffee. If someone is tailgaiting me, they are a jerk. If someone is driving too slowly, they are also a jerk. But that would make me one too.
3. Coffee. I get a splitting headache if I don't get my fix. And I get really cranky.
4. Not following directions.

Five things you like doing:
1. Run. I dunno why, because I used to hate it. Now I'm hooked and training for my second half-marathon in February.
2. Sleep. Those of you with young kids, I don't need to explain. Everyone else, trust me.
3. Read. Books with more words than pictures. That's a rare treat that I only get to do on airplanes these days. But I can quote "Green Eggs and Ham."
4. Eat. One of these days, my metabolism will slow down. But until then, I'm gonna chow. Or until I reach that holiest of holies -- the Deep Fried Mars Bar mentioned above.
5. Seeing our young'uns in their classroom. It's so cool to see Rei and Anna in class-- they're so different from how they act at home. And they're getting smart. I better read up before they make me look stoopid.

Five things you would never wear, buy or get new again
1. mohawk. For one week in college. And it wasn't one of those tall pointy ones but just a tuft of hair. Looked like a small animal died on my head. Went no hair soon after, then grew back to where it is today (functional and fast-drying, but not much else).
2. a 1979 Toyota Celica. The engine actually sprung a hole on the highway, vaporizing motor oil onto my windshield. It was like the old arcade game SpyHunter. The car was worth almost as much as the quarter it costs to play.
3. another iPod. But since my willpower is made of jelly, as soon as the next thing comes out, my 20GB, Shuffle, and Nano will likely gain a sibling.
4. Another subscription to a magazine. I get so many and I never get to read them all. It stresses me out to have an ever-growing pile of mags that I have to force myself a daily quota of articles to read. And to think I subscribed because I wanted to enjoy them...
5. All those suits I wore as a salesperson in Japan

Saturday, January 07, 2006

hmm

I remember when I was a kid, passengers used to clap when the plane landed. Were pilots back then just learning, thus less likely to land correctly?

Friday, January 06, 2006

Flashback!

I dunno why my wireless connection dies more often in Dallas Ft Worth airport, but there it goes again. And here I am again, suddenly tetherless and abruptly jerked back into the real world. I look around the lobby and see mostly other business-folk. Heads down and typing, or talking to disembodied voices via their earpieces (mine's out of batteries from an earlier call...). No one makes eye contact.

Last time I felt so isolated within a crowded room was back in University final exams. At the time, I had a pretty effective system of waking up at the crack of noon, missing morning classes and using nothing more than academic bulemia which involves quickly ingesting class notes then retching it out for the exams. For that particular day, the analogy was an opt one, as the concoction of 50 hours sleep deprivation and heavy caffene use (we used to make espresso by the mugfull) was causing me scholastic dry heaves. Try as I may, nuthin' was coming out of my brain! I remember looking up from my test paper and feeling utterly alone and helpless amongst a sea of heads-down students and the desolate chorus of pencils scratching paper...
 

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