Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Family? Doing great – check. Thanks for asking.
Healthy? Yep - check.
School? Both kiddies doing well – check.
Work? Steady as she goes – check.
This was a big year for firsts for Anna. She started kindergarten, and she joined her brother Rei in starting TaeKwonDo! I missed Anna’s debut, but I can vividly recall how collected I felt in witnessing her second tournament at UC Davis. I coolly pointed the camcorder toward the ring, and proceeded to calmly film with the cap still on. At least my hands weren’t shaking…too much anyway. Figure we can write the shaky images off to the pair of moderate earthquakes we felt this year.
Rei continues to crank along on both his schoolwork and TKD. He was placed in a 2nd/3rd grade combo class, so no more coasting for him! On the sports front, Rei continues to improve, racking up 1st place sparring at Stanford, UC Davis, and the Silicon Valley classic. He also made his debut running 5K races – that’s one thing his old man can still stomp him on, so we’ll do more of those.
The Boss got admitted to Evergreen Valley College, and is going to start classes on Jan 2nd. She’s looking forward to resuming her academic career. Should be a lot of fun; not to mention personally fulfilling as well. Drink lots of coffee, because there’s gonna be a LOT of homework!
I'm still cog #68034 at a behemoth hitech company. I rest content that I have such a critical role in the Great Machinery. In fact, were I to rust, there may be a second, nay, multiple seconds (!!) of productivity lost forever to the company. One wonders how I can shoulder such an awesome burden. But hey, someone's gotta do it!
That’s about it in a nutshell. Hope this post finds you all in great health and spirits. Have a safe and wonderful holidays!
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
"Dad. How can I get the Green Man to move from the Rock Mountain Entrance so he can give me the Watch?"
"Go ask your mother" was my first reaction, but then I stopped. Hold on, I said, then quickly Googled Green Man and Rocky Mountain Entrance. A ha! There it was.
"Son, if you had paid attention in class, the answer should be inherently obvious. You need the Three Coupons from the clowns in town; give those to the Man in the Suit. The Suit Man will give you an Apple, which will make the Green Man move."
"ohhhhhhhh! I KNEW that!" my son says, slapping his forehead in realization.
I dunno who designs these games, but one has to be impressed at how closely this logic resembles reality.
Go fetch this PowerPoint slide and give to the Man in the Office so he'll give you the Numbers needed to Attend the Offsite.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
We're having our son's 8th birthday party this Sat. We ran into a bunch of scheduling issues last year, so we learned our lesson. This year, we booked early, August, if I remember correctly.
We got a smokin' deal, on account of the fact that the party building was still under construction. No problem, they said! So we thought nothing of it. We bit on the free T shirt offer and signed up.
4 months later, the Big Day is almost upon us. I haven't seen the facilities in a while, so I emailed the organizer to ask what activities will be available on Saturday.
- Knock Down Dry Wall Race
- Asbestos Breath Holding contest
- Pin the Tail on the Still Hardening Concrete
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Today, as I stood on the threshold of the 4th harddisk reformat in 6months, I too have decided to go Black Turtleneck and buy a Mac.
I am appropriately humbled. And am grateful that the Man spent but a mere 17 minutes cackling in glee over his unconditional moral superiority over his serf. Gracious even in victory -- 'tis why he is the Man.
Friday, November 16, 2007
My adolescent years were spent training, ninja-like, in polishing my eye-hand coordination to a blinding gleam. I've gone from Duck Hunt (1984 -- remember? if not, see above) to its natural progression to trying my hand at a shooting range.
I know nothing of firearms, save the direction I do not want to be standing in when one of those are nearby. But that doesn't deter me. Just like Milton Bradley's "Operation" is a good indicator for success in Med School, my NES (not the Super kind, but the original one) will likely provide an adequate backdrop to the real thing.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Our kids workout at a local Tae Kwon Do school, 9 hours or so a week. While the kids get primal and knock each other about, us parents hang out on the other side of the plate glass window. We do so, rain or shine, because we enjoy the fresh air. There's a bar kitty-corner from the school, where distinguished patron-patriots follow the law and do their smoking outside. As they say in the French countryside, one must have the courtesy not to spoil the exquisite bouquet of freshly tapped Old Milwaukee.
It's hard to distinguish facial features in the grayish haze, but we can discern voices now and then. Yesterday, for example, we heard a heated discourse on the merits of various flavours of tobacco.
"I take lots of little drags so I'm not really inhaling as much. That's why I don't need lite cigarettes."
"Makes sense. If ya ask me, Menthol is my fave."
"Menthol? I thought you're only supposed ta smoke those when you're sick!"
Monday, October 08, 2007
"Introducing the New Electro-FabuloExtremenator2000! It does everything the KindaFabGoodenator1000 does, but faster, more accurately, and comes in 5 Delicious Edible Chassis choices! And the best part? You can own this for the price of a cup of coffee a day! You heard right! For ONLY the price for your daily coffee runs!"
I was momentarily stunned and giddy with excitement. Wow, all that for such a pittance!
Then I unwrinkled my crumpled Starbucks receipt from this morning. Price of Grande Extra Foamy Mochalito Supreme with organic 1/2 and 1/2 Hold the Styrofoam Cup, Easy on the Free Trade, To Go cost me $17.80.
Hmm...though the Beef jerky flavored chassis on the new model is compelling, maybe I'll stick with the old model for a few more months.
Monday, October 01, 2007
Maybe it's a neurosis of some kind. Maybe it's a faulty gene sequence.
But when I'm in a conference room with one of those triangular speaker phones perched on the table, I gotta stare at it. It's not a machine, it's a person. Within its squat black plastic frame, multiple personalities jockey for attention, like Sybil of Psychology 101 fame.
If I don't look that red LED square in the eye and nod in sage agreement to the last comment, I feel like it (and by extension, every personality within its crowded cranium) senses my innermost secrets -- the heresy (!!!) that database integration and process optimization are not all that top-of-mind....
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Low and slow, just enjoying the admiring eyes.
Amazing thing, these timezones. Not only is Australia entering summer whilst the US is getting its sweaters out, minivans go from Juice Boxes to Boom Boxes in the span of 13 timezones.
Friday, September 21, 2007
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Yesterday, I attended a session delivered by Andy Sernovitz, author of "Word of Mouth Marketing."
He said, "Blogs...are a cry for attention."
Hmm...never though of it that way. He's right! LOOK AT ME! OVER HERE! ME ME ME ME.
Feel much better now, thanks for asking.
Monday, September 10, 2007
I saw a few people, including The Man, buy themselves a Mac for work use. Man those things are slick! Nothing says Silver is the New Black like snapping open that smooth clamshell whilst your colleagues creak open their black, diesel-powered ThinkPads. Should I make the jump too? Well, besides the obvious $ issue -- if I'm asking you if you have 17 cents at lunch so I don't need to break a $5 bill, you can guess the status of my bountiful finances. But consider too the technical difficulties! The Man spent all weekend configuring his machine to work with the PC environ at the office. And it still doesn't work. Though I have to tell ya, listening to Mac owners gripe about interoperability, it sounds a bit like subtle bragging. Kind of along the lines, of, Boy I hate it when my Gulfstream needs its engines repaired JUST when I'm about to spend a weekend in my private ski resort.
Then I got to thinking. Why do I want a Mac? Or an iPhone (goosebumps). It's not the function, which the PC can arguably give you. It's the cachet! It puts you on the geek-cool pedastal in a meeting! The iPhone makes me look happ-o-nen in the eyes of my adoring children. THAT's why I crave these symbols of Cool Credo. So here's my question:
Where can I just buy the shell of a Mac or a snap-on faceplate to my clunky cellphone, so it looks like the real thing? I'd snap it up in a heartbeat. Provided, of course, that you could loan me 17 cents so I don't have to break a $5 bill.
Friday, September 07, 2007
And the quotes! Awesome! Take this one by Spartan King Leonidas: "Spartans! Enjoy your breakfast, for tonight...we dine in Hell!"
I can't wait to subtly slip that in at work. "Enjoy the budget allocations! For tonight...we type in Hell!"
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Monday, August 20, 2007
Folks who use their cellphones in the restroom. Today, there was one talented individual talking business with one hand to his ear, and using the other to conduct his other business. That man was either very multi-task-talented, or he had relatives in the janitorial business that needed to be kept employed. Because I was in line to avail myself of the same facility, I can confirm that the latter scenario seemed to be the case...
Pretty soon, the company will have to start handing out flip-flops along with those disposable seat covers.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
At any rate, it feels good to be posting again!
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
I calculated that the first 21 days of every month goes to service our mortgage. The next 6 days are spent on things like electricity bills, water, and the like. Months with 31 days are bonus, because that means there are extra days to be spent on frivolous items like food.
And the banks totally know it. The initial we-want-your-business-yo phase was characterized by friendly, fawning emails/letters/phone calls. Dear Sir and Madam, the letters would say; Sincerely yours, the letter would implore. But not now. They know that they own us. Dear Peasant, the monthly bills now say. No more Best Regards. Not even a From. Now it's Remember Who Yo' Daddy is, Punk. Sigh. I shouldn't complain. May does, after all, have 31 days...
Hmph. Back when I was your age, our IM was a fax machine! We'd write a witty comment on a piece of paper, send it in the fax, and voila' an equally pithy zinger would be faxed back in about a day.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
It is 1979. If Bill is heading southbound on George Washington bridge at 75 mph while making a legal lane change during rainy weather, what brand milk should he pick up on the way home?
Friday, April 20, 2007
I was struck though on how much more efficient the US Gov't had gotten over the past 10 years. Back in da day, a trip to INS required that you set your alarm for 3am, and line up at the local office at 4am or so. It was first-come-first-serve back then, and they had a cutoff of how many folks can be processed in a given day. There was no queuing mechanism, so folks with questions on a N400 form would be on the same line as someone looking for the restroom. Very unpleasant. I only line up in the dark for important things. Like at ToysRUs waiting for one of 25 Nintendo Wii units coming in. This time though, the citizenship appointment was done online. I brought the printout with me, scanned at the door, and off I went. Very cool. The Man has embraced IT, and us little people are grateful.
Inspired by this article, I decided to do the whole training run on the treadmill.
My lasting impression after I was done: Chafe. Chafe. Chafe.
Try this sometime and see for yourself.
And enjoy the joy of searing pain in the shower afterwards.
Reminds me of what a wise friend once said:
Friday, April 06, 2007
How do you feel about that outing?
English: Great! It feels like a dream come true!
Japanese: I couldn't concentrate because all you yammering journalists kept popping the flash when I was in my windup
What's this Gyroball I hear about?
English: Perhaps you will see it in my next start. (smiles knowingly)
Japanese: I dunno, dude (wincing because sun is in eyes)
How do you feel to be a Boston Red Sox?
English: I am proud to be a part of the honorable tradition and history of the Boston franchise
Japanese: Who is Boston?
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
At any rate, son (7) and daughter (4) were on Stonenge Standard Time, and were in no mood to cooperate with this new DST shift. With all the whine about, we may have been in Napa. Seeing the scores of unhappy faces of parents in the neighborhood, this phenomena was not localized to us.
But as the day went on, my curses toward DST died down, and eventually changed to downright cheers. I now love DST. Why? Because this new DST time hasn't existed before 2007, this means that calendaring apps like Outlook were completely screwed up. Sure, IT issued patches to correct this, but with half the company compliant and the other not (a colleague just installed the Y2K patch last week...), every appointment in my schedule is now suspect. Implications? For the next two weeks I can miss meetings with impunity and blame DST. "Sorry to arrive at work three hours late, boss. DST issues. Outlook told me that it's still 6am."
Friday, March 02, 2007
So here's the Pearls of Wisdom we have to offer:
The first one is gonna be a nerve-wracking, everything-is-an-emergency-that-burp-must-mean-something-let's-call-a-doctor, but thereafter it lightens up. For our second, we learned to filter out everything below the Howl of Pain. We sleep much better now.
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Between the jet lag, the caffeine withdrawal, and the light sparkling off of the $20,000 platinum-plated phone, I am feeling a bit woozy. Not being entirely certain how to handle this device, I hold the phone as I once saw an old lady do with produce in a grocery store - scrutinizing the produce to find the ONE tomato without any blemishes.
Caroline: "Where would the gem be placed?"
Hideo: "Um...here!" I point pretty much at random.
Caroline: "Interesting - we have not had anyone wanting to customize the...screen...before."
Hideo: "(realizing error) No, I meant that this is a beautiful screen. Minimal glare. Much like the face of a Breitling - functional yet attractive. But I digress. Sylvia would like to use her own 1.03 carat, purple Alexandrite on the face plate here."
Caroline: "A 1.03 carat gem, here?"
Caroline's tone is incredulous. It was as though I mentioned that I had deep-fried arachnids for lunch, and found them crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside (this is actually a dish in rural Cambodia, apparently. It was on the Discover channel. That's where I got the gooey quote.)
Hideo: "Ha ha. I must apologize for joking with you. Having held the device in my hand, it is quite apparent that a gem of that size would detract from the refined lines of this device. In fact, that would be garish...rude even. Sylvia is not fixated on this particular 1.03 carat gem, but she does want an Alexandrite to be part of the overall look. Perhaps you can suggest some designs?" (Phew!)
Caroline: "Oh but of course! We'll try to arrange some designs from our London design department by the time Sylvia arrives on her… next Singapore visit (gives Hideo conspiring look)."
Hideo: "(returns look of deep conspiracy) Remember, you didn't hear it from me!"
By this time, I had already spent close to one hour in this office, and I wanted to leave. But I also wanted the coffee she poured for me earlier. I had not reached for it, fearing that I would spill it onto the $20,000 phones and thus be their proud owners. I glanced forlornly at the coffee cup, but was frozen in indecision.
Catching my expression, Caroline hastily exclaims, "Oh Hideo, my deepest apologies. Your drink has gotten cold! I will get another sent out immediately!" With that, Caroline pressed a hidden button under her desk. 45 seconds later, a black-clad man appeared with my fresh cup. Although I longed to slug it down, I merely took one small sip. I suddenly had a vision of being held hostage here until the enigmatic Ms. Sylvia ponied up a check for this communication device. I had to get out of here!
Hideo: "Oh my! I must beg your pardon. My next meeting at the Capitol Tower (the only address outside the hotel that I know) beckons"
Caroline presses another secret button under her desk and Samantha and an older black-clad man appear at the door. I feel nervous for a moment, but they all shake my hand enthusiastically and give me their business cards.
"We look forward to seeing you again soon! Please give our regards to Ms. Sylvia! We can meet anytime - just let us know her schedule and we will accommodate!"
[To be continued in person by Ms. Sylvia]
(Memoirs Part Two!)
At last. One on one with Caroline, the saleswoman of the rich and famous.
Caroline: "Mr. Hideo, please let us know how we can help Ms. Sylvia. Would you like some coffee?"
Hideo: "Of course. Now where to begin...?" I smile, then put on a look of mild concentration. (coffee? of course! ....crap lost train of thought. She's good. Already disarmed me with my weakness)
Caroline: "Ms. Sylvia sounds like a busy woman. As her secretar..."
Hideo: "I prefer 'Administrative Assistant'" (need...to...buy...time)
Caroline: "My apologies. As Ms. Sylvia's Administrative Assistant, you must be even busier. Does Ms. Sylvia often shop in California where she lives? Because we could arrange a local appointment in Beverly Hills as well?"
Hideo: "Well the term 'lives' is somewhat misleading. It would be accurate to say she legally resides there, but it would be more accurate to say Ms.Sylvia lives in an airplane. At any given time, there's an equally likely chance of finding her in London's Cannon Street, Tokyo's Marunouchi, or right here in Singapore. In fact...well, I probably shouldn't mention this, as Ms. Syliva loathes given her itinerary away too much in advance..."
(Captain! the limitor on the BS Engine is no longer in our control! Abandon ship!)
Caroline's ears perk up, and she is eagerly leaning forward. Just then the coffee arrives. It is a rich smelling concoction, obviously far superior to the mud served in the breakroom at work. The lines of the black china seems to blend seamlessly to the black lacquered desktop.
Hideo: "...hmmm, why not. Ms. Syliva intends to be in Singapore in late September. Perhaps she will request that I schedule time for her to visit your fine boutique personally? But first, let us discuss the customization questions that Ms. Sylvia has." (I think I just gave off too much this-person-may-buy pheromones, because Caroline is practically convulsing with the effects of the internal battle between maintaining a sophisticated, cool air and making her kill-sales-pitch. To her credit, this struggle lasts but a split second, and she is back to her polite yet so-very-Euro-cool manner.)
Editor's note: at the time of this meeting, Sylvia and Hideo lacked an important piece of information: Vertu has sold only one phone.
Caroline: "Ms. Sylvia ark mentioned something about customization of our communication devices?"
Hideo: "Yes. I'm sure I don't need to tell *you* that many people are very attached to their birthstones. Ms. Sylvia is the same way with hers - Alexandrite."
Caroline: "Ah, a beautiful gem. I am especially fond of the Chrysoberyl Cat's Eye"
Hideo: "Ms. Sylvia has mentioned that as well. But she was particularly interested in seeing if she could fit an Alexandrite gem that she has in her possession." (A What's Eye??????)
Caroline: "Very interesting. Here are three working models of the Vertu devices. Where would she be interested in placing them?"
Hideo: "May I?" (holy cow! the $20,000 phone! Three of 'em RIGHT HERE! I can buy a Lexus with these phones!!! Let's see, wearing wingtips. Despite Tom Cruise's example in "The Client", I found that it's impossible to run in dress shoes. Darn.)
Caroline: "Why certainly. Notice the attention to detail. The tactile sensation of the ruby-geared keys. And the sleek design by Kris Bostloft. You may have noticed his work with light and shadows being displayed on the LCDs."
Hideo: "...Interesting. This is exactly as my employer has expected the device to be." (She expected it to be expensive. Hmmm, this phone was designed by the nostril-cam video guy? Come to think of it, I CAN check my nose hair on the shiny platinum surface. Wait - better pluck that one when I get a chance to duck into the restroom...!)
I spend a couple more seconds scrutinizing the phone from every angle. I have a look of intense scrutiny on my face. I usually get that when there's a strong glare flashing into my eyes. Caroline remains silent, taking in my obvious appreciation of her mobile artwork.
[once again, to be continued]
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
=======insert Wayne's World Flashback music here=====
lightness. darkness. a long-shot of a mountain range. an extreme close-up of what could be a man's nostril. These images softly assail me from the LCD panels hanging from the ceiling. I look around - the showroom, if it can be called that, screams neuvo-Europa, but in a subdued kind of way. It's actually a bit schizophrenic. Welcome to the Paragon, Home of Vertu, I say to myself. I feel pretty darn uncomfortable, but I steel myself, knowing that what I am about to do is for the good of mankind.
rewind 15 minutes. I'm in the hotel, changing from the dress shirt I was wearing all day into a freshly pressed shirt I packed just for the occasion. The shirt is starched so sharp, I can cut vegetables with my collar. I look in the mirror, and practice my aloof "yes, yes, I've seen it before. If my employer didn't insist on it, I wouldn't even be here" expression. Snicker. Gotta watch that.
Off to present. My shirt is already damp from the Enterprise-class humidity (that's 99.999% for the marketing-to-English translation) and no longer looks sharp. I'd be lucky to chop tofu with my collar now. My aloof, worldly expression has transformed itself into one of bewilderment and confusion. This is one weird store. The display pedestals which showcase the phone, nay, communication devices, suggest icy pillars reaching to the heavens (in case the heavens wanted to order out for a flood or tornado, I suppose). These displays, obviously, do not add to my comfort level.
"Weeeelcome Mr. Hideo!" sings Samantha, a sales/marketing manager at Vertu. She is dressed in black, no doubt to match the decor of the showroom.
"Hello, you must be Samantha."
"Yeeees! We were SOooo looking forward to meeting you. Please, this way," she purred, as she lead me to one of three back offices.
There, in the clean and minimalist dark-coloured office, sat Caroline, the assistant Boutique Manager (also dressed in black, by the way).
"This is Caroline, she will be attempting to understand Ms. Sylvia's needs and desires."
(Uh..that's an awful lotta prying. Maybe you should ask Sylvia these things directly!)
"But of course," I reply nonchalantly.
Samantha then graciously slides out, leaving me alone with the ever-smiling Caroline....
to be continued!
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Monday, February 05, 2007
At any rate, there was a full fruit plate in the breakroom today. Almost totally untouched, brimming with melons, berries, pinepple, and...cream cheese (guess they ate all the bagels). I grabbed a paper plate and plastic fork, and started munching. There were a number of folks that filed thru, and I was left with a burning question. Why is it that people will use a plate and fork unless they're "just going to take one piece" -- in which case they feel free to use their fingers? Maybe it's like the old 5 second rule: if you drop food on the floor, you're safe if you pick it up and eat it within 5 seconds; the germs dont react fast enough and don't have time to jump from the floor to the food morsel.
I pondered the delicious thought of eating something that's been touched by ten unwashed hands. Then I shrugged and kept munching.
Thursday, February 01, 2007
-You can cram for a race. Just run 52.6 miles the night before. In a crunch, you can always just run to the start line.
-Alternate between wearing your right sneaker and your left. It wears out more evenly.
-Training is all about acclimating your body to the rigours of running the distance. So apply hot irons to your legs every other day and get dragged behind a slow-moving automobile.
-Train with music; it drowns out distractions like car horns.
-Best part of running long distances is stopping. So by standing there with that dumb look on your face, you're half way there.
Thankfully, there are also pros like Linda and Tom to keep me on the straight and narrow.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
I suppose we should consider ourselves lucky. Our friends' daughter has 99 of these little buggers! Ours only has 28.
You know what the amazing thing is? Though Hasbro launches a new set of ponies every year, I don't think they've ever repeated a name. I gotta suspect though that they're running short on ideas. Bet ya ten bucks that you'd find stuff in Hasbro's R&D department of concepts like : "My Little Pony Bodily Function Series: Gassy, UpChuckie, Phlemgnina.
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Learning about how sneaky my future self can be, I reworded my 2007 resolution. "Run a full marathon."
Monday, January 08, 2007
Mysterious message left for me by my Friday afternoon self. So here I am, Monday morning, steaming paper cup full of coffee in hand. Have no idea what this cryptic note was referring to. It was obviously important to me at the time because it ends with not one, but two "!!."
Perhaps it was a New Year's Resolution of some kind?
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
I had stayed away for years from this new-fangled tech. I guess I was scared off because I saw ver 1.0 of these things up close. Back in the day, 1989-ish, my parentals had one of these gizmoes installed in the family sedan. It was monochrome, no voice activation, and consisted of about 128Kb of data; roughly equivalent to a MP3 file barely long enuf to reasonably play Name That Tune. At any rate, that first iteration was downright unusable. Its accuracy was measured in terms of State lines -- "Make a right turn at Massachusetts. You are now on the East Coast," the text would helpfully scroll.
But this new GPS is a beaut. If I don't listen to the helpful soothing voice instructions, and miss yet another turn; no problem! It cheerfuly recalcualtes the route and helpfully offers a recovery path. No getting lost in an urban maze where a flat tire and an empty tank of gas would force one to make a pitstop in an..unadvisable section of town. That was 1996 I think -- the ver 2.0 model guided me to a Los Angeles street with the same sounding name, but with a violent crime rate roughly 30x the place I wanted to arrive at. I still remember reaching the pay phone, listening for the dial tone and noticing that the coin receptacle had been gutted with something that leaves scrotch marks. Rather than ask directions from the nice gentlemen enjoying their liquid dinners from a brown paper bag, I proceeded to thump along on three tires to the next town...
I digress. It's too bad that the only places that I've gone since acquiring this new model is work and back. But I can tell you that I know exactly how to get home from here, thanks to the wonders of satellite navigation technology!!