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
> 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,

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"


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


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.

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