Friday, December 28, 2007

You're it!

I've been tagged by Lost. Being a slow day at work, I will indulge my need to procrastinate. ;)

-------------------
Rules for the game:

  • Link to the person that tagged you , and post the rules on your blog.
  • Share Christmas facts about yourself.
  • Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs. (or as many as you can).**
  • Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog

    1. Wrapping or gift bags - Mostly wrap as I find some strange pleasure in the task. Gift bags are reserved for those odd shaped things that aren't worth wasting excessive amounts of paper on to create something wrinkly.

    2. Real or artificial tree? Alas, no tree for Pandax, not as long as her bedroom is bigger than her living room. I did see a great pre-lighted, artificial tree at Bloomie's for $75 after Xmas... very tempting for next year. I make up for the smell by walking through places like Target, OSH, and Rite Aid to smell the cut trees.

    3. When do you put up the tree? This year, it was Xmas Eve because no one wanted it except me. (My mom was embarassed to have it because we don't really do gifts these days and she doesn't like a bare tree bottom.)

    4. When do you take the tree down? Within a few days after Xmas because my dad likes things put away.

    5. Do you like eggnog? In small amounts I think it's quite tasty. No lowfat stuff, you gotta go for the 100% unhealthy cream.

    6. Favorite gift received as a child? I already had a gift from my parents when I noticed there was a Rubik's cube stuffed on a shelf in my parents' closet. I was so excited to get the toy everyone else had. Funny, it was sitting on my dresser when I came home to visit this year.

    7. Do you have a nativity scene? Eh, because most of us have plenty of storage space to keep such a thing? No, I don't think that's ever going to happen. Besides, my family's not religious.

    8. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Can't say that I remember... although I can remember several strange birthday gifts. My best guess is probably some overly perfumed set of bath salts and soaps.

    9. Mail or email Christmas cards? It's a mix because I honestly just can't get them all finished in time. It's also a matter of how close I am to people.

    10. Favorite Christmas Movie? I'm still a sucker for "It's A Wonderful Life" though I must admit "Elf" is growing on me. And there always must be a showing of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."

    11. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Maybe July? My philosophy is to shop whenever I see something that fits the person and is a good price. On average, I finish just after Thanksgiving... but that's because I don't have too many nieces and nephews to worry about right now.

    12. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Cookies made from scratch with real butter and sugar. Gourmet chocolates like Godiva aren't so bad either. :D

    13. Clear lights or colored on the tree? I used to love colored lights as a kid. Now I'm gotten a bit snooty with the white only.

    14. Favorite Christmas song? "Silver Bells" - I used to play it on the piano. I can't stand listening to Xmas music on the radio (I boycott the local station that starts playing it pre-Thankgiving.)


    So there's a little about me. I won't specifically tag anyone but you know who you are out there who regularly peak in on my life and vice versa.
  • Sunday, December 23, 2007

    Kindness for the season

    Tim comes down to stay with my family tonight. I'm still not sure what my mother thinks of the whole event. The fact that she's gone out to try and find a gift for him means a lot to me. I hope she will be accepting of him and happy that I'm happy. I probably should ask her, but we've never been that initmate and open with our conversations. I figure she'll tell me what she's thinking in our first post-Xmas phone call.

    I'm happy he's coming down to visit. We're going to have a full house and for once I'll really feel like it's something close to what the average American experiences during the holidays. We'll eat some good Asian food, watch a good football game (hopefully), and play Wii until our arms hurt.

    ***

    Last week I volunteered with C3 for a local charity. We thought we would be spending our afternoon in a big, empty warehouse wrapping gifts. We walked into this huge, vacant building and a concrete floor covered with rows of gifts. The wrapping paper rolls were all off to the side.

    It turns out, the first thing that needs to be done is a sorting of the gifts by charity and by child. Because the tags that go out to companies and stores don't all come back (about a 50% return rate), the organization puts out two gift requests per child.

    Our job was to sort through the gifts, write up tags for children who are missing gifts, and pull duplicate gifts from the row. It's interesting to compare what people buy for the same gift tag. Sometimes it was identical, sometimes they were different sizes (cost?), and for more challenging gifts it was a matter of prioritizing the basic item wanted versus the color or brand the child requested.

    Probably the most fun part was "shopping" for the missing gifts. Eventually all the duplicates and non-specific donations are organized in a section of the warehouse. You literally get to take your shopping list and pick out gifts.

    My first gift tag read, "star globe or star map." My first thought was, "there's no way I'm going to find this. What could I choose as a close alternative?" My eyes gravitated towards the stacks of legos and art kits thinking maybe there'd be something useful there. And then I realized they had three carts of books, organized by subject. I saw the science books and quickly scanned the section to find ONE book on stargazing. Awesome!

    One group of girls proved particularly challenging. They all wanted Betty Boop items such as blankets. Of the four who asked for items, only one came through. Not only did the giver buy the doll she wanted, they added a great tote bag. I was impressed since I would have no idea where to go for such stuff. I had no idea Betty Boop was popular again.

    We did find a Betty Boop watch and a notebook with Betty Boop on the cover. We debated what was more important - did they need the blanket to keep warm for the winter, or were the girls just looking for Betty Boop? In the end, we decided to be boring and practical with blankets or the secondary boom boxes they listed.

    The most hilarious request of the afternoon was a six-year-old who wanted a pogo stick. C3 wondered where he could have gotten such an idea. I suggested he saw some stunt show and wanted one. It wasn't a surprise that we couldn't find one. I wanted to give him a substitute that still represented something active and outdoors. We considered a small skateboard but didn't know if his mother would like another dangerous toy. In the end, I grabbed a Nerf rocket set.

    C3 was just fascinated by the variety of gifts that kids receive these days. She hasn't ever had to buy toys and had no idea how electronic toys have become even for the youngest. In one batch of toys we had to find Vtech notebook computers for four kids under 8 years old. We scoured the piles of duplicates hoping to find one last notebook to finish our list. And wouldn't you know, we found a duplicate pogo stick. For a moment, we considered taking it for the six-year-old, but the box said for ages 9-99, so we decided he was too young for it and left it. What are the odds of another kid getting a pogo stick!??

    I wish I could have spent more days volunteering. It's really fun to do something good. There's a lot of debate about charity because you don't always know that the items, be it food, clothing, or toys, are really being given to people who need them versus being resold for cash. For the holidays at least, I have to believe that these will be items appreciated by kids. I am especially happy to give my time to people who ask for simple things like jeans, a jacket, or basic clothing because you know they need it.

    Happy holidays to everyone however you spend this time of the year!

    Wednesday, December 12, 2007

    Stolen

    Stolen from a variety of blogs including Anna May... I'm a little late to the game but had to do it.

    1. How do you like your eggs? usually hard boiled, just not after eating them one meal a day for two weeks straight

    2. How do you take your coffee/tea? Mostly hot tea plain, sometime a touch of honey like now when I have a sore throat

    3. Favorite breakfast food?
    Weekdays: Fruit yogurt (without HFCS)

    Weekends: Cereal, when there's milk

    4. Peanut butter - smooth or crunchy? Loved cruchy as a kid, but now it's all about the smooth

    5. What kind of dressing on your salad? Ranch, Italian if my pants are feeling tight

    6. Coke or Pepsi? Neither, I drink Coke on rare occasions

    7. You’re feeling lazy, what do you make? Chips and salsa or guacamole

    8. You’re feeling really lazy. What kind of pizza do you order? That's being lazy? I'm too cheap to do that.

    9. You feel like cooking. What do you make? Depends on what's in the frig, probably stir fry or pasta.

    10. Do any foods bring back good memories? Rice with cream of mushroom and french-cut green beans - it reminds me of simple meals as a child that I loved.

    11. Do any foods bring back bad memories? Chinese sausage, the sweet and bright red kind. My mom kept making it for months when I was six. We got sick of it, and none of us eat it anymore. Brownie mix, I broke out in hives from a certain brand.

    12. Do any foods remind you of someone? Warm maple syrup mixed with melted butter - learned it from the ex-bf. Coconut because Tim hates it.

    13. Is there a food you refuse to eat? Chinese sausage, chicken feet (the texture is like eating fat to me).

    14. What was your favorite food as a child? Egg rolls full of bean sprouts and chicken, nice and crispy, and then dipped in vinegar and soy sauce.

    15. Is there a food that you hated as a child but now like? My mom always commented that I ate everything.

    16. Is there a food that you liked as a child but now hate? Chef Boyardee raviolis - I still like the idea, but my stomach isn't too pleased these days.

    17. Favorite fruit and vegetable: Blueberries, persimmons, pea sprouts.

    18. Favorite junk food: Cheetos!!

    19. Favorite between meal snack: Whatever I can find in my desk drawer - usually trail mix.

    20. Do you have any weird food habits? Putting chips into my sandwiches to have some crunch.

    21. You’re on a diet. What food(s) do you fill up on? It's more about cutting down on things I like rather than filling up on specific foods. I guess I'd probably eat more salad.

    22. You’re off your diet. Now what would you like? Pastries made with lots of butter and eggs.

    23. How spicy do you order Indian/Thai? Medium to hot, but I want to be able to taste the food.

    24. Can I get you a drink? Tap water (in most cities). It probably stems from my cheap Asian upbringing - "you can drink soda at home"

    25. Red wine or white? I'm a lightweight but I don't mind the occasional glass of cab, pinot, or sweeter white.

    26. Favorite dessert? Tough choice between fruit and chocolate... a warm fruit crisp wins if I have to choose.

    Monday, December 10, 2007

    Matching the past

    I heard a great story over the weekend about how online dating can be successful. It's not your typical girl meets boy story. I heard this story from a friend and just had to share the entertainment.

    An acquaintance of mine, Lynx, has been single for a number of years. She an attractive Asian women - pretty, petite, slender. She's a bit of a home body so she doesn't necessarily get out and meet new people often. After three years of being single, Hula has been trying to convince her to try online dating.

    Recently, she gave it some thought. They had created a profile for her some months ago but never activated it. Hula convinced Lynx to let her write up a little summary to her profile. She did her best to imitate how Lynx might write about herself. Apparently, it was a good pretty good imitation because Lynx was satisfied and posted her profile.

    Weeks went by and she received several e-mails from guys Hula considered to be good candidates. A few deal-breakers in Lynx's profile made her list limited. Since Lynx had been off the dating market for a few years, she was naturally a bit hesitant to initiate any conversation or reply to any of the bachelors who sought her out.

    Persistent nugding by Hula paid off and Lynx exchanged e-mails with a handful of guys. Eventually, she went on dates with a couple guys. When Hula would ask about the dates, Lynx's attitude was that of indifference. She said she needed to date a guy 5 times to know whether or not she wanted something more. (This comment in and of itself could spark plenty of debate over how many dates is enough. Frankly, I think two to three seems fair.)

    The next couple weeks could best be described as "when it rains, it pours." Not only was she going on a few dates and e-mailing new candidates online, her old high school boyfriend called. She was relieve to learn that he was just calling to chat. He's still happily married and for some reason just called (after years) to catch up. It was a pleasant chat.

    Later that week, her old boyfriend, SJ, called. That hadn't spoken to each other since she broke it off three years ago. At the time, she was not happy with his lifestyle. They are both somewhat reclusive people. They fit well in that sense. What bothered her was that he tended to compartmentalize his life. He has his work, his friends, and Lynx. The issues was that he never mixed any of them. For the two or three years they dated, she never once met his co-workers or friends. She was uncomfortable with the fact that she was not included in more of his life. He lacked maturity.

    SJ was calling to say that he was still thinking of her and wanted to discuss getting back together. He readily admitted that she had been right about his lack of maturity and wanted to change things. Based on what had happened before, she was hesitant. She still liked him as well, however, and was willing to go slow and see if it could work.

    Soon after, she stopped seeing her online men. It's been several months now and they are fully together again.

    The best part of the story is what she learned after the fact. Remember how they hadn't spoken in three years? When he realized how much Lynx meant to him, he thought about seeking her out. He doubtful, however, about whether she was still in the same apartment or city and whether she was available. A friend of SJ's suggested that he check online to test whether she was still single.

    Knowing her city and her deal-breaker traits, he did a search and found her. There was no picture or name to verify it was her, but he was pretty sure the description fit the Lynx. Finding this information is what gave him the courage to call her up.

    In the end, Hula says this demonstrates that online dating does work. No, Lynx didn't meet her boyfriend online, but certainly it was the catalyst for getting back together. Had she not posted her profile online, how long would SJ have continued to pine for her without saying a word?

    Monday, December 03, 2007

    Is this work-related?

    On Thursday, my boss commented that he wanted to talk to me after lunch. After lunch, however, he was not around and his calendar was empty. Our admin, Cheetah, assumed that he had left for the day given that his computer was gone and no personal items like car keys or blackberry was laying around. I left around 4:30pm.

    This morning, I come into my office to find a post-it note clinging to the edge of my monitor. In his thin scribble, my boss had written:

    "Sorry I missed you. I'll be in touch."

    It was kind of a given that everyone took Friday off because of a computer outage. His office door was ajar this morning, giving me the impression he was here. But no one has seen him and Cheetah took the day off. That tells me she knew he was not planning to come in. So when did he leave this message? Why did he leave this message? Leaving a note is somewhat unusual for him in my book. But I do appreciate that he did mean to talk with me. What's with the "I'll be in touch" part?

    I'm suspicious of this because we all know he will be leaving the company at the end of the year. We also all suspect he's double dipping right now. He's probably spending several days each week working for the other company already as there's not much to do around here as we await layoffs. Does this mean he's not coming back to the office for awhile. It would have been nice if he'd tell us this. It's not just me in the office here.

    Cheetah implied that it was nothing to worry about, yet she couldn't tell me what it was about. Later, she did say that she knows he needs to hire some people at his new company. Could it be he wants to suggested I could come interview there should I get laid off? But is that appropriate to say while we're both still working here?

    Eh, whatever. It's probably nothing other than that he won't be in the office for awhile. It's just really weird sitting around without someone at the helm. I really do need to finish my resume though... .

    Minor note: Oh the irony, our last company sponsored auditorium movie is "The Hoax."

    Saturday, December 01, 2007

    What's the weather going to be like?

    I talked with my mom this week. I've been trying to ask her about having Tim visit for the holidays. I figured that she's had sometime for the idea of me having a boyfriend to sink in. Now, I wanted to make him more of a presence.

    We discussed a range of topics. What I was hoping would be a 30 minutes conversation turned into more than one hour. We discussed her plans to join a gym, my depressed aunt, my cousin's job, my sister-in-law's job opportunities, and the housing market.

    Finally, I said, "hey Mom, I was wondering if I might invite Tim to visit with us for a couple days during the holidays? His parents will be out of town, and since he's planning to visit friends in [cities a couple hours away], I though it would be nice to have him spend time with us."

    Mom: "Okay, but we don't have much room at the house."

    Me: "What about the den? Don't we still have the extra twin bed?"

    Mom: "Oh yeah, I guess we could set that up. But we won't be around for lunch on the 23rd."

    Me: "That's fine, I don't think he'll come visit until the next day."

    And then, we drifted towards another conversation. She didn't ask a thing about him. I don't know whether that's a good or bad thing. I mean, wouldn't you expect your parents to ask more about the person who's coming to visit. I did, a couple years ago, mention a little about him, maybe she remembers. Perhaps she doesn't want to ask fearing I'll think she's being nosy. The more likely truth, however, is that she doesn't have any interest in asking which makes me sad.

    I find myself very disheartened by her lack of anything to say. Certainly I'm not surprised that she's not excited. Still, I wanted her to ask something - show some curiosity. It hurts because I can't do anything to make her happy. It hurst because she can't be happy for me. I feel guilty because part of me is uncomfortable with Tim because I am apprehensive of the conflict that will arise because I am dating him. Who knows what comments she'll have to share with me later. It's hard enough to find someone whom you think you could have a lasting relationship; it's worse when you know it could bring such angst with your mother.

    Tim's immediate conclusion is that my mom doesn't like him and doesn't want to care to know anything about him. How am I supposed to respond to that? It's unfortunate that he has this pessimistic mindset but it's understandable. I don't know what to tell him other than things will be fine and just to be himself. I'm not the sort of person to sugar coat a situation. I'd like to believe that everything will be okay, but I really don't know what to think.

    So, at least they know he's coming to visit. I know my mom will be polite and hospitable throughout his stay. All we can do now is find them so nice gifts for Tim to give and hope that they'll find him a good guy.

    Wednesday, November 28, 2007

    Something's coming

    Yesterday afternoon, I was asked to provide some data for a project. Since the bigwig was out, I headed up to the VP of finance's office to leave the information.

    As I approached his office door, I observed the window above the closed door was dark. I debated where to leave the memo as I approached presuming he was not there. The executive admin was busy talking on the phone. I started to turn around when I heard some muffled talk. I walked back toward the office door to determine whether it was coming from his office or the one next door.

    Sure enough, I could hear a high-pitched, male voice from behind the VP door. It was garbled, but I did manage to clearly hear, "but this severance package is not good."

    Describing what went through my head is like trying to catch a cloud:
    - someone's speaking up for themselves
    - some manager is defending his group
    - there really is something coming
    - we're about to get cheated
    - they might actually tell us what's going on, finally

    I wish I could have stood there longer, but that would have been way too obvious. I walked back over to the admin's cube and left her with the memo.

    Thursday tends to be the notification day. Every Wednesday I wonder if some mysterious and vagur e-mail or voicemail will slip into my inbox during the night to greet me in the morning. It's not a matter of "if" just "when."

    Sunday, November 25, 2007

    You can't invite him for dinner?

    Thanksgiving week was great. Work was absolutely quiet which made for no guilt playing hooky on Wednesday. I don't think anyone in my department bothered to come to work.

    On Monday night, I had a brief chat with my mother. I had been thinking this would be my opportunity to warm her up to the idea that I'm dating someone.

    Mom: "What is GradCousin doing for Thanksgiving?"

    Me: "I don't know. He mentioned that his friend invited him over last year for a family dinner and is hoping that he'll be invited again."

    Mom: "So what are your plans for Thanksgiving?"

    Me: "Well, do you remember my friend, Tim, who gave you the keys to my place when you came up to visit that time?"

    Mom: [one second pause] "Yeah."

    Me: "Well, we're dating. We decided since none of our friends will be around that we're going to drive up to [xxx] for a couple of days to go hiking and explore a museum."

    Mom:[two second pause] "So does that mean you can't invite GradCousin and his friend over for Thanksgiving?"

    Me: "Sorry, I thought about that but it didn't make sense to have a whole turkey for three of us. I figure I'll just catch up with him later during the weekend."

    Mom: "Are you sure you can't plan Thanksgiving dinner and invite him over?"

    Obviously, Mom was more concerned about taking care of family. As much as I like getting to know my cousin, I hate that my mother now expects me to keep an eye on him. She's even tried getting me to help her set him up with some friend's daughter. I've refused, and she just gets mad at me. Ugh.

    The big question here is, did she hear me say "dating?" I'm pretty sure the pause was more to remember coming up to visit me. It's really unclear whether she caught the dating part since she was so preoccupied with making she GradCousin is not spending his holiday alone.

    Tim and I had a great weekend. We left on Wednesday morning and enjoyed a tour that showed us some nature and wildlife in the countryside. It was beautiful to see the last of the fall leaves changing colors.

    For dinner, we had reservations at a better known establishment. I sat on the booth side looking towards the center of the restaurant. Tim sat in a chair facing me. He could see the decor on the wall behind me which included the daily specials. He also happened to notice an attractive young woman sitting two tables away from us. She had bobbed brown hair and was well-groomed, probably in her late 20s at most. Normally, Tim doesn't really comment on women, so I was a bit surprised. But clearly, she stood out from most of the people in the restaurant.

    It seemed odd that she was sitting alone. I could not tell whether she was just arriving or finishing up her meal. As we waited for our server to take our order, I watched as a server came to her corner booth with a cheese plate. Suddenly, a man appeared and slid himself into the seat adjacent to her. He was an older man, 50s or early 60s. Immediately, I suspected that I recognized him. I turned to Tim and said, "I think that's Billy Joel."

    Tim shook his head and said, "no, that's not Billy Joel."

    It made sense and explained why no one was seated at the table between us and the alleged celebrity couple. After a few of exchanges of "yes, it is" and "no, that's not," I asked Tim when was the last time he'd seen a picture of Billy Joel. Tim shrugged his shoulders and guessed that it had been ten years. I asserted my opinion and noted, "I've seen pictures of him in the past year and I'm pretty sure that's him."

    As we waited for our main courses, a couple was seated at the table next to us. They talked for a few minutes, browsed the menu, and then the gentleman glanced to his right. I could not help but watch because I wanted to see if he would notice the possible celebrity. Sure enough, his eyes popped a bit and then he turned to his companion and remarked, "I think that's Billy Joel over there."

    I immediately turned back to Tim and said with a laugh, "see, even that guy think it's Billy Joel."

    I can only wonder whether my whispers were overheard by Mr. Joel and his companion. I certainly wasn't going to approach them as I believe it's disrespectful to intrude upon a stranger's dinner for such a silly reason. It was have been nice to meet him and tell him how much a enjoy his music, but this wasn't the time or place. Instead, I had to settle for the satisfaction of sitting 10 feet away.

    Later, after they had left, I asked our server, "was that Billy Joel sitting in the corner?"

    "Yes, that was, and right behind you on the other side of the room is Mario Andretti," she whispered.

    I'm not a big star gazer, but we made sure to walk the long way around the exit when it was time to leave. We weren't quite sure what Mario looks like, but it was fun to take a peak. Two celebrities in one night, what a kick!

    Thanksgiving day was simple and quiet. We slept in, watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and went on a 5-mile hike to enjoy some great views of the surrounding hills. It was my first hike since my vacation and my muscles were having a memory lapse. Dinner was mellow. We went to a local place where we shared a heaping plate of Thanksgiving turkey with all the trimmings and a plate of sea bass for contrast. Nothing special but peaceful and relaxing just being together.

    Our couple of days away from home were great. We were still in a normal town yet we felt worlds away. On a whim, I called friends to see if they might be around as we passed through their neighborhood. It was serendipitous they were about to have dinner with more friends. We all caught up on our holiday adventures over a tapas dinner.

    On Saturday, I met up with GradCousin for dinner and showed him how to make bittersweet chocolate ice cream. Man, was he a happy man as he headed home. It's nice to know that it'll last him through semester finals.

    Monday, November 19, 2007

    Black and white

    There was one moment from my vacation that was pretty striking to me as an Asian-American. I can't help share it when I'm with people because it demonstrates how differently cultures interpret how to distinguish people.

    The first day my friend and I went on a tour of a village. It involved us walking around to view the various farms in the neighborhood. Naturally, we walked past various homes where kids were playing. When they saw us, many would wave their hands and say "hi" and follow behind saying things in Swahili. I could only wonder what they knew about visitors to their village. Did they think us strange, amusing, intruders? Our guide had told us that the children in the village had been told that allowing visitors helps build things such as their classrooms. While I believe this of the children who happily said "hello," I am less sure of the small boy who quietly spied on us for 15 minutes with an air of caution on his face.

    Towards the end, a little boy and girl were running down the road saying a couple words over and over as they watched us walk up the road. I asked the local guide what they were saying. He said they were yelling "white people, white people." While I understand how that's true compared to the people they are used to seeing, I felt a bit odd and uncomfortable hearing it.

    Here in the U.S., "white people" defines a specific group of people, those typically of European descent. Asians, Hispanics, and other ethnicities are separate categories. America is funny that way. We boast about our wonderful melting pot, and yet we fiercly protect and promote our differences. For better or worse, we identify anything and everyone into millions of categories. There, however, considering the dominant population, anything not black is probably considered white (though I'm not sure what they'd say if they met an Asian Indian). (Of course, parts of Africa continue to discriminate each other by tribal associations.)

    There was this general sense of guilt to be associated with "white" because these were the people who colonized them. I didn't want to be associated with that history. Sure, the Africans benefited from some of what was implemented, including education and good farming practices, but on the whole, the colonization was disruptive and devastating for some areas of Africa.

    It feels strange to be called "white" because that's not what we learn here in the states. In some ways, being called "white" has a negative connotation as an Asian-American. Some could interpret that as a person who prefers "American" habits over their family's practices or lacks any connection to the customs and beliefs of their ancestors.

    Being called white also reminds me of stories that I've heard other Asian tell about visiting the South during segregation. Where do you sit on a bus? Which water fountain do you drink from? One Japanese man recounted how he thought he was supposed to sit with the other "colored" people when a white man directed him towards the white seating. I would have been just as confused as him about which seat to take. Heck, I probably would have just stayed standing the whole ride.

    When I've told white friends, they seem to comprehend but simply give me nods of understanding, "oh, that's interesting." When I tell me Asian friends, however, the mood is more of a big laugh followed by discussion and attempts to interpret the situation. I wish there was a way all people could appreciate multiple perspectives.

    I'm not an expert on racial studies, it's just my insight into one moment of my life... .

    Tuesday, November 13, 2007

    Looking for an axe

    When you brace for impact, your muscle tense up, you clench your teeth, and sometimes you wince at the thought of what is about to hit. The problem is, if you don't know when it's coming, your muscles get tired and your jaw gets sore. That's about how I'm feeling these days when it comes to work.

    Even before I left for vacation, people were rolling in a bit later than before. I typically arrive at my desk between 8:10am and 8:30am. Usually there are a few people already in the office and the rest appear soon after. It started becoming a daily fact that no one would appear before 8:30am (except one commuter trying to avoid traffic).

    Now, well now, the office area is a ghost town until 9am. By 4pm in the afternoon there's no one here either. It's spooky, it's depressing, it's just sad. I'd love to sleep in and not work, but it's just not my style. Granted, I don't do much while I'm sitting at my desk these days, but at least I'm physically here and trying to be busy (in between checking my personal e-mail, shopping for presents, and writing in my blog).

    Our department admin is going crazy. Sometimes it's hard to know how much she is speculating based on what she has seen happen in past jobs versus what she knows to be true from handling our VPs e-mails.

    She is states definitively that we'll have layoffs on Dec. 28th. She guesses that we'll get our notices around the 17th. Ouch, now that would be pretty mean to give us notice the week before Xmas.

    In frank conversations she's had with the boss, he's advised her to not give notice until January. There are several reasons for that including qualification for any bonuses, but her interpretation is that it's because we will indeed be given notice by then. If we are still employees at that time, we will get severance.

    It's all pretty crazy and frustrating. Even worse, our boss is leaving sometime this month according to the e-mails that the admin has read. The man has several kids and a mortgage to pay, so I can't fault him for finding a new job as soon as possible. The problem for the rest of us is that we will no longer have anyone to represent us and ensure that we're treated fairly if and when the final layoff comes. Who will stand up for us now?

    The VP knows more than he can say, that's obvious and he readily admits he wishes he could say more. I just want this hell over with. I'm a rip the bandaid off fast type of person. I pray that he is doing his best before he goes to provide guidance to the higher ups on what he wants for us.

    Sunday, November 11, 2007

    Technology relativity

    I've been exchanging a couple e-mails with my cousin to get hints at what types of gifts I might buy for her kids this year. It's getting more challenging as they grow older. Long, long ago I figured that when they reached the age of twelve that I'd have to change strategies. Well, that time has arrived for one of them. Even last year, I didn't really send him toys.

    My cousin was asking about seeing photos from my trip. I told her I had created an album in Facebook. I had also mentioned talking to another cousin while connecting with each other through LinkedIn. Here was her response the next day:

    "I'm so out of it - I have no idea how to text message, I've never logged into Facebook, and I just heard about LinkedIn last month. Yet here I am, a firmware developer working in a [tech-related] company."

    I couldn't help laugh at this comment. She's in her mid-forties, but I would have naturally expected her to be familiar with at least some of the stuff for two reasons: 1) she's in technology and you'd think that such information would filter through her company, and 2) having kids that are nearing middle school would keep them abreast of coming fads and interests.

    It's still difficult for me to understand how younger generations rely on these formats more than live voice or face-to-face communications. The more I use them, however, I find that I appreciate the conveniences a little more. I would never label myself as cutting edge, but I at least am aware of these modern technologies and have used all three mentioned. Certainly, I'm ahead of my non-technology industry friends. Part of me wonders how much my familiarity is partially due to living in a techie area that is known for cutting edge innovations. Another part of me wonders how much of a dinosaur I will become in ten years as I fall behind in technology.

    Friday, November 09, 2007

    Why Geeks and Nerds...

    I was browsing my Facebook page and noticed this link.

    It's cute though I can't agree it's totally true. You still need to find a geek that has normal social skills. They still should have friends and groom themselves to a decent extent.

    Why Geeks and Nerds Are Worth It...

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Date: 2005-04-03, 9:30PM PDT


    In the wide world of dating, there are many options. Do you go for the flashy guy with the smooth smile, or the dude in the corner typing away on his laptop? The following are reasons why I think my fellow females should pay more attention to the quiet geeks and nerds, and less attention to the flashy boys.

    1.) While geeks and nerds may be awkward, they’re well-meaning 9 out of 10 times. That smooth dude with the sly grin and the spider hands? Wonder what HIS intentions are... plus, I’ve never had a geek guy not call me when he said he would. Score major points THERE.

    2.) They’re useful. In this tech-savvy world, it’s great to have a b/f who can make your laptop, desktop, and just about anything else that plugs into a wall behave itself.

    3.) They’re more romantic than they’re given credit for. Ok true, their idea of romance might be to make up a spiffy web-page with all the reasons why they love you, with links to pics of you and sonnets and such... but hey. It lasts longer than flowers, plus you can show your friends.

    4.) Due to their neglected status, there are plenty to choose from. You like ‘em tall and slender? There are plenty of geeks/nerds who are. You like ‘em smaller with more meat on their bones? Got that too.

    5.) They’ve got brains. Come on now, how can intelligence be a bad thing?

    6.) Most are quite good at remembering dates. Like birthdates and such, especially if they know it’ll make you happy. Due again to their neglected status, they’re more attentive than guys who “have more options”. Plus, with all that down time without a steady girlfriend, they’ll likely have mental lists of all the things they’d love to do once they GOT a girlfriend.

    7.) Sex. Yep. Sex. I’m not really familiar with this myself, but I’ve friends who’ve been intimate with geek guys and it’s raves all around. They say a virgin wrote the Kama Sutra... all that time thinking about sex, imagining sex, dreaming about sex, (they are male after all) coupled with a desire to make you happy? Use your imagination.

    8.) They’re relatively low-maintenance. Most can be fueled on pizza, Twinkies and Mt Dew. No complicated dinners needed here, so if you’re not the best cook, eh. Can you order a pizza?

    9.) Most frequent bars as often as slugs frequent salt mines. You won’t have to worry much about your geek guy getting his “groove” on with club hotties because, frankly, he’ll be too busy rooting around under his computer wondering where that spare cable went. You won’t have to worry about him flirting with other women because, 9 out of 10 times, he’ll zip right by them in a perfect b-line towards the nearest electronics store. I’ve seen this happen.
    Me: “Eww. Victoria Secret’s Models... They’re so skinny. How is that feminine? You can see her ribs!”
    Geek Guy: “ooooooo...”
    Me: “Hey!” *notices he is staring lustfully towards the computer store*
    Geek Guy: “What?”
    Me: “Never mind...”

    10.) Although he may not want to go to every outing with you, you can arrange swaps, as in, you’ll go to his Gamer Con dressed as an elf princess if he’ll take you to the ballet. Plus, if he doesn’t want to go someplace with you, you won’t have to worry much about what he’s up to. You’ll probably come home to find him asleep on his keyboard in a sea of Mt. Dew cans with code blinking from the screen. It’s ok. He’s used to this. Just toss a blanket over him and turn out the light.

    11.) His friends aren’t jerks. I can’t stress this enough. You’ll more likely get “Omg! A GIRL!! Can I see?!” than “Hey hot stuff back that ass up here and let me get some grub on...” They’re awkward geeks too and will, 9 times out of 10, treat you with the utmost respect and, more than likely, a note of awe. A cute girl picked one of their clan to date? It could happen to them! Hope! Drag some of your single girlfriends over, open up a pack of Mt. Dew, crack open the DnD set and get working. Nothing impresses geek guys more than a girl who can hack-n-slash (well ok maybe if she can code... a geek can dream).

    12.) They’re rarely if ever possessive. They trust you, so you can be yourself around them. You like to walk around the house in a ratty t-shirt for comfort? He won’t care. He does too! They won’t get pissy if you don’t wear make-up or don’t want to bother primping your hair. If you gain a few pounds, they won’t try their best to make you feel like crap.

    13.) They’re usually very well educated. Physics majors and the like. See #5. You won’t have to listen to him blathering on about his car (ok maybe a little), he’ll have loads of other interesting things to talk about. Politics, world events, how much the chicken burgers down at the local place rock, so long as you douse them in hot sauce...

    14.) You’ll almost never have to hear, “Yaw dawg whazzap!!” plop out of their mouths. Unless it’s in jest. They spell properly, use correct punctuation, and are able to tell the difference between the toilet and the floor. They almost never get “wasted”, so you won’t have to worry about coming home to find him and his friends passed out on the floor amidst a pile of beer bottles. Mt. Dew cans, perhaps...

    15.) And the final reason why geeks and nerds make great boyfriends: They actually give a damn about you. Not how you look (though that’s a plus), not how skinny you are, not how much make-up you primp yourself up with, but they like you for you. That kind of thing lasts longer than “DaMN baby you got a fine ass!!!” Believe me.

    Wednesday, November 07, 2007

    Murkyness

    Maybe it's just me, but I can't figure out what's up with Chi. Granted we spent A LOT of time together during the trip. We slept in the same room, tent, or hallway for two weeks. Naturally, I can understand that things could get a little awkward.

    Still, in general, I found her silence unusual at times. In the month or two before the trip she was somewhat MIA. I met her for lunch two weeks before our trip and learned that she's pretty frustrated with her job. Chi's interviewed for a couple positions within her company, horizontal career moves, but gotten nowhere. In phone conversations with Juan, she's cried in frustration and disappointment. Her self-esteem is a bit in question.

    On the trip, she seemed okay. I figured her quiet demeanor was part having nothing left to say to me and part exhaustion from our daily hikes at high elevation. She seemed cheerful and social with everyone else. The journey home probably didn't help matters. First, our transportation during our first segment was 40 minutes late in picking us up from the airport. The host made up a lame excuse about traffic on a Friday night. Well, he should have known that and left earlier.

    The next morning, our flight was delayed by one hour and 15 minutes which caused us to miss our connecting flight back to the U.S. The airline in question would not give us a voucher for a hotel room because they claimed it was air traffic control's fault and therefore they were not responsible. I would agree that the last 15 minutes prior to landing was due to air traffic, but not the one hour sitting on the ground before we departed. That was clearly due to their lack of organization. Chi was furious but the arguing went nowhere. I was a bit nonchalant about it only because I knew there was no point in getting mad and yelling at the service people. I tried to convince her to stop fighting with the service people. Yes, they deserved some of the complaints, but at some point, it's not constructive.

    It's now been a week since we've been home. I waited almost a week to talk to her figuring we both needed normal time with work and boyfriends. Everyone's been clamoring for a photo party and we had agreed during the trip to have a shared party. In her e-mails, however, she's been very unexcited about the idea. She keeps saying that she's too tired to do anything and doesn't have the energy to think about helping to organize. All I've asked of her is to host. Yes, she may have to clean a bit and wash dishes, but otherwise I've said that we'd simply buy some prepared food from Costco and ask people to bring appetizers. Her e-mail just seem so depressing with her lack of enthusiasm. She doesn't even plan to invite anyone beyond a couple of friends and family whereas I need to invite almost 20 people.

    So I worry. Is she totally annoyed with me or is she back to some unhappy state as she was before the vacation? Sometimes I wonder if I said something in the past or on the trip that really bothered her. Part of me wants to reach out and ask, another part of me thinks I should leave it alone until after Thanksgiving and see if she is simply slow to recover from the toll of the trip.

    In the meantime, I'm asking another friend if she would host the party. (My living room becomes a death trap with more than 12 people.) I'll take care of all the food to make thing smoother. Hopefully, things work out.

    Monday, November 05, 2007

    Just find me a clean floor

    I went to the library over the weekend to return a travel book I had borrowed from the library. Rather than simply drop it in the book return slot, I stood in line. I could tell the older women just ahead of me was glancing at the book. She then asked me, "Are you planning to go there?"

    "Yes, actually I just got back." I replied cheerily.

    Then she started to ask me a little bit about the trip - how long I went, what I saw. Then a clerk came free at the counter. I gestured towards the counter so that the older lady could step forward. Just as she reached the counter, another clerk waived me to approach.

    As I walked by the older lady, I could hear her recounting to the clerk how she'd talked to me and commented that she didn't understand why people look at travel books after a trip. "I always want to read up about the place I will be visiting," she remarked.

    Funny interpretation I thought. She assumed that I was waiting in line to check out the book. I almost never go to the counter to check out books these days; I always use the self-checkout computers. Little did she know that the reason I chose to stand in line was because my book was four days overdue and I was here to pay the fines.

    So yes, I'm finally back. It's taken me many days to readjust, especially considering the nasty cough that I acquired during the trip. It was nice to spend a little time at home to recuperate. Of course, there are still dozens of little items, paper stubs, laundry, and mail strewn about the place.

    The trip was fantastic though I must admit there were times during our grueling hikes when I asked myself why I signed up for this adventure rather than get a nice hotel on a beach somewhere. After you've hiked 10+ hours, part of the brain really questions the logic of using vacation time for such a demanding activity.

    The scenery was very interesting. I knew I was visiting a third world nation and yet it didn't seem that bad. Some people find it shocking, and yet it didn't surprise me. Sure it's easy to say that when I get to stay at a "modern" hotel. I'd like to think I spend enough time outdoors to appreciate what it could be like to live without technological conveniences. I certainly have enough friends who would freak at the thought of having to live in lesser conditions, even for half a day.


    The view from our hotel says it all. You have this vast, flat land. Even so often, the earth sent up a large volcano and left behind earth that rises up thousands of feet. From a far they literally seem to appear from nowhere. I didn't climb this mountain but our guide told us that people hike this in three to four days. We all loved seeing the jacaranda trees in bloom with their purple flowers.


    No matter where you go in the world, children are precious souls. At one of the parks we visited, a headmaster had his group of preschoolers out to meet tourists. He was basically trying to solicit people to send donations, be it money or supplies, to fund a new classroom for the kids. I wanted to help, but at the same time it bugged me a little that he would spend their time standing in a parking lot. It felt a little wrong and I couldn't help wonder how much of the cash donations were ending up in his pocket versus the kids' classroom. Still, the kids seemed well taken care of, so I had to believe he had the best of intentions. You have to wonder how seeing these tourists affects their impression of foreigners and their own situation. I thought of all those silly pens we pick up at hotels, stores, and work. We treat them like junk and don't think of them for a second when they get lost. Yet, here, they would be so helpful to have for writing. This is why I hate wasting anything and don't take things I don't need.


    We were on safari for several days during the trip. I could post dozens and dozens of cool pictures, but most of them you could easy find on the web. Instead, I share with you one of my favorites. There's a little animal called a dik dik. It looks like a gazelle or deer except for the fact that these guys stand about two feet tall. Their small size and big eyes make for an absolutely adorable creature. I am very curious to see how tiny the babies must be. They are very shy creatures. They hide the moment they hear the car noise.

    All in all I had a great time. I can now say that I can survive one week sleeping in a tent, not taking a shower, and having to pee in all sorts of inconvenient places. I can even survive a night of sleeping on the floor at Heathrow Airport (thankgoodness it had just been cleaned and waxed). It was a cultural experience, a peek into nature, and a true test of endurance and determination.

    Sunday, October 14, 2007

    Southern Hemispheres

    I'm off for a bit of vacation. This will be my first venture into the Southern Hemishere - so exciting!!! Talk to you all in a few weeks!

    Monday, October 08, 2007

    Quality time weekend

    Sorry, been meaning to post this but things have been busy.

    I had a fabulous weekend. Tim and I watched "Knocked Up" on Friday night. It's a pretty funny movie though some of the humor was definitely male-oriented humiliation and toilet humor.

    On Saturday, I dragged Tim out early for a special sale on outdoor gear. I'm headed to Africa and need to get some last goodies. I was especially excited to get some carbon trekking poles that normally cost a bundle. I already have the standard aluminum poles, but there's nothing like lightening the load a little. Afterwards we head out for a day in the city. It was really relaxing to sit on our travel chairs in the park and enjoy all the goings-on. To test out my new camping pillow, Tim suggested we "camp" on the living room floor for the night with the windows open to simulate the cold. So cute.

    On Sunday, I met up with Is and Ci. This was our chance to catch up on some girl talk. I'm not totally close with them, but having very similar family backgrounds makes it easy for us to empathize with each other.

    The morning could not have started out more crazy than people ending up in the wrong places. I thought specifying downtown would have made it clear but apparently not. Ten minutes after the meeting time, I was still waiting. I called Ci and she said she was already sitting at a booth. The hostess overheard my reaction and immediately suggested that she might be at another location. The local breakfast place, I forgot, has multiple locations.

    Sure enough, Ci was sitting at the mall. That's the newest diner, one that I always forget exists. I immediately thought of Is. She tends to get lost easily. When Ci called her, it sounded like she was headed for downtown. But on a whim, I called her to double check. As soon as she answered the phone, she said, "Where are you guys? The place is closed."

    Yup, she went to the original diner, which is three blocks away and only open on weekdays. After giving them both directions and waiting for a booth, we finally sat down to brunch. What a stressful morning!

    We had the usual catching up over minor dramas such as Ci's husband running into his ex-girlfriend. I told them about Tim. The biggest topic of conversation that day was exploring how our attitudes about dating and marriage have evolved over the years. Naturally, they were curious about my change of heart with Tim. Is is having her own issues with Irish as she's unsure about the next step after almost two years.

    At some point, I asked Ci how she knew that Cy was someone she wanted to marry. She explained that while he may not be the love of her life, he's what she's looking for at this point in her life. She mirrored some of her mother's choices at that age with her own priorities. Her honesty was refreshing to me.

    I know some people would be aghast at that kind of comment. After all, we grow up with fairy tales about love and how it's the only reason to be with someone. But let's face it, love isn't everything, not in today's frantic world. If we all lived in bubbles, sure, it would always work out, but we live in a constantly changing environment.

    Ci talked about how the two of them fight, maybe more than what she perceives to be normal. But then, he's intelligent and stable. Perhaps ten years ago she would have looked for someone more "wild." We all agreed that when you're in your twenties, it's easy to say "let's see what happens."

    We talked about how we all have been programmed to believe we want this perfect Asian man that will also please our mothers. Subconsciously, we know we are still trying to please our parents even though we constantly struggle against their wishes. They'll never be happy with our choices whether it be the jobs we take, the money we spend, or the men we date.

    Is is dealing with her own issues. She been dating Irish for some time now. Generally, the impression is that he's a good guy who wants to be with her for the long-term. She, however, is struggling with what's lacking in him. He's tall, self-sufficient, caring, and funny. What he lacks is a college education, a well-paying job, and a stable family background. Maybe this doesn't make sense to some people, but that's what you learn to look for and know that you're parents will be looking for if you have a background like ours.

    While she finds it empowering to have to take the initiative with financial decisions and other practicalities, I know it's not the image she envisioned for herself. She is a bit of a princess type and has previously dated guys who always took care of her. I think she's struggling with the idea of being the one who wears the pants for the family if she marries Irish. She knows he's a good match for her despite those challenges.

    Probably the telling question Ci offered was this, "Can you envision that your man will be there to push your wheelchair when you're old?" She laughed with a bit of fear that Cy would not be good about that. On the other hand, Is and I were confident that our men would support us through anything. It's a good feeling I suppose.

    Thursday, October 04, 2007

    The end of the tunnel

    Rumors are swirling. People are coming late and leaving early. My boss came to me this morning and ask, "Hypothetically, if responsibilities are moved to the East Coast, would you be interested in taking a transitional role with the [parallel to here] department?"

    "What does that mean? Do I need to move to NJ or would I simply be traveling there each week for six months to a year?" I wanted to make sure I understood my options.

    "No, you'd move to NJ and be managing a group of people and taking on larger projects and responsibilities."

    Wow, I thought. That would be such a great career move, but I don't want to leave. My response came pretty quick though I was slow find the words, "N - o... I know it's a great opportunity but I don't want to move."

    "Okay. That's what I expected to hear." My boss got up and started to turn towards the door.

    "What about you? You wouldn't consider leaving?" I asked because he just moved his family to a new house. His kids range 6-14 years of age.

    As he closed the door, he confided in me, "they've asked me to interview for a VP position in [sister company]. It'd have to been a pretty strong reason for me to consider it. I don't want to move; my wife doesn't want to move. It'd be pretty tough." His head shaking told me that it would have to be an incredible offer.

    So if this discussion of our operations is "theoretical" and yet to be determined, how come he's already been asked to interview elsewhere in the organization?

    I appreciate the fact that my boss has tried to be as transparent and open as possible about what is going on. Everyone is on pins and needles. The layoffs and downsizing has worn morale down to a threadbare state. We don't care and yet we want to know if we should continue to do our jobs. This is just torture.

    It seems many friends I've talked to are going through the challenge of refocusing their careers. I like what I do, but I know it's time for a change. The opportunity to be in a bigger group and manage others is tempting. I could simply put my stuff in storage, move East, and rent an apartment for year to give it a go. But what happens to everything else? What about Tim? What about my friends? What about my life? And if this is a "transitional" job, what happens when the term is complete? Am I out on the street or is that time also meant to be used to find a permanent role in a new group?

    Am I being stupid in not considering the opportunity? If it weren't for Tim, would it be more appealing? It could be tough, the cultural difference between East and West Coasts can be striking. That would be another challenge. I might hate it after three months, but still the experience would be good to have. I could learn from others, learn different ways companies and groups operate, make connections.

    But then, there's also the temptation of waiting for the layoff. After all, I'd get a several weeks severance and be able to just have to some time off to relax and revise my career goals. Taking on this job would delay that opportunity and I'd lose that nice little severance.

    Argh, why does this all have to happen weeks before I'm off for vacation?

    Wednesday, October 03, 2007

    How low can you go?

    I have to admit, this is a minor factor in my attraction to men. It's one of the things that can make a bad first impression. There are several men I've met from online dating who seemed likeable in e-mail but went downhill once I talked to them.

    Sadly, it's one of the things that is not so exciting about Tim. His voice is somewhat childlike. Even he acknowledges that he does not like his voice because it is higher pitched than he prefers. There were definitely former boyfriends' voice that I loved hearing when I talked with them on the phone or listened to their voicemail messages.

    So is there some parallel rule with women? I can imagine how a very low voice would scare some men. I know of a few women who have particularly high voices. They either sound like they are little girls or have sucked a bit of helium. It's like listening to nails on a chalkboard at times.

    I wonder what these native peoples think of us foreigners running all these "odd" experiments with them?

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Deep-voiced men 'have more kids'
    Men with deep voices tend to have more children than those who speak at a higher pitch, scientists say.
    Their finding is based on a group of hunter-gatherers in Tanzania known as the Hadza, who can be studied without bias because they use no birth control.

    Males who hit lower notes as they talked had about two more children on average than squeaky speakers.

    It fits with observations that women find masculine voices more attractive, the team reports in Biology Letters.

    "There are a lot of reasons why lower pitch and reproductive success could be linked," said Coren Apicella, from the Department of Anthropology in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University, US.

    Deep tones are suggestive of increased testosterone levels, which could lead females to perceive such men as better hunters and therefore better providers, she told the BBC.

    "Or it could be that men with deeper voices simply start reproducing earlier. We really don't know what is behind this yet."

    Sound system

    Apicella's group studied the Hadza because "they provide a window into our past" - they live their lives much as our ancestors did, and their behaviours could illustrate key facets of evolution that might otherwise be swamped by modern culture.

    Hadza females gather berries and dig for tubers, while the males hunt animals and collect honey. Marriages are not arranged, so that men and women choose their own spouses.

    The Hadza are monogamous, but extra-marital affairs are common, and the divorce rate is high.

    For the study, voice recordings were collected from 49 men and 52 women between the ages of 18 and 55.

    "The experiment was really simple," said Ms Apicella. "I went to nine different camps and I'd just get them to come into my Land Rover and record them saying the word 'hujambo', which means 'hello', into a microphone.

    "I then analysed the voice and pitch, and compared it with the person's reproductive history - how many children they had had and how many were still surviving."

    The results indicated the deeper the man's voice, the more likely he was to have fathered more children, she said. She added that voice pitch was not linked to child mortality.

    "We found that for women, the voice pitch was not connected to reproduction."

    'Hadza Olympics'

    Because of the similarity which their hunter-gatherer lifestyle bears to that of our ancestors, the reproductive success of the Hadza could be indicative of the way that human beings evolved.

    If females are drawn to deeper voices, this would drive selection in the population towards that trait. In other words, lower-pitched male speakers would become dominant over time.


    "It's possible that vocal dimorphism has evolved over thousands of years, partly due to mate selection," explained Ms Apicella. "Perhaps at one time, men and women's voices were closer in pitch than they are today."
    Her group has plans to extend its study. It is analysing data gathered from an experiment designed to test whether lower voice pitch in Hadza men really is any kind of indicator of performance.

    "I set up the 'Hadza Olympics'," she said. "The tribesmen participated in lots of activities, like archery competitions, racing, hunting, etc.

    "I'm going to look now at these to see if there is a link between hunting success, reproductive performance and voice pitch."

    The research was undertaken with David Feinberg of McMaster University and Frank Marlowe of Florida State University.

    Sunday, September 30, 2007

    Out of sight, no invite

    Usually when one overhears a conversation about someone feeling hurt over being left out or wondering if they've been ignored for some unknown personal reason, one would think it's spat between two women.

    In this case, however, it's my male friend, TJ. I found out over the weekend that he was asking why he had not been invited to a birthday party I organized for Tim. C3 made me aware of his inquiry. Apparently the reason he found out about it was because a friend asked TJ, "are you going to Tim's party at C3's?" Then, on the day of the party, Hula had called TJ asking if he wanted to carpool to C3's place for Tim's party. (Hello? Check the invite list before mentioning these things to people.)

    Naturally, you can understand why this would be rather perplexing and somewhat hurtful to feel left out. Upon hearing this, I felt rather bad myself for hearing that he could not understand the reason for being excluded. TJ is a very gregarious person and likes to include others. I'm sure he expects similar behavior from others.

    Before asking Tim, I chatted with C3 about it. My natural assumption is that Tim does not feel particularly close to TJ. There have been a few times where Tim expressed surprised at being included by TJ. Secondly, the party itself was never intended to be big like the parties that TJ likes to have. We kept it to less than a dozen people who Tim chose. Even I was surprised at how few people Tim wanted to include after asking him for additional names. Thirdly, given that TJ has never gone camping with us, spends much of his free time socializing with his girlfriend and her circles, and rarely shows up for casual events due to his work, it's easy to forget about him. He hasn't been there to "bond" with us (at least me anyhow).

    Tim has been in my life for over three years. Besides big social gatherings like BBQs and house parties, I don't think TJ and Tim ever talk. On the other hand, friends like Hula, Drummer, Ig, and C3 see Tim monthly as a result of various outings and get-togethers. While I feel bad for forgetting TJ, there's a reason for it. Hearing him comment to C3 that he's the reason Tim and I even know each other is not fair. Just because you take credit for linking friends together doesn't give you an automatic ticket to events. (TJ and Pku are friends. Pku and Tim went to college together. I met Tim when Pku invited me on a group vacation.) I don't think TJ was implying that he should be invited for that reason alone, but he made that observation just the same which I find illogical.

    Basically, C3 and I agree that it's tough when there are overlapping circles of friends. Not everyone needs to be included in everything other people do. For example, sometimes it makes sense that a casual evening is for people who live near by each other. I am very aware that I'm not invited to certain events, but I know it's because I'm not from the same college or ethnic group. Even though events may not be specifically organized around a specific theme, I certainly understand that I'm not being intentionally excluded sometimes. Come to think of it, I wasn't invited to TJ's girlfriend's birthday dinner even though Hula and C3 were; that's fine. Why should complain?

    I told Tim about what has happened. He laughed a bit and then said, "whoops." It was plain to see that he had simply forgotten about TJ. It was mostly what I had thought, Tim hasn't seen TJ in months and didn't remember him. He was thinking of people he's hung out with over the summer. The thing about it is that, normally, TJ is so busy, he wouldn't have cared. His girlfriend happens to be out of town and he was alone the evening we had the birthday party.

    I don't know if TJ will ever bring it up with me or Tim. C3 certainly felt bad because it was at her place. TJ targeted her with a bit of guilt. I take some responsibility since I controlled the invite list. At least Tim knows now to remember him next time. I only hope TJ realizes (or someone points it out to him) that sometimes he's not going to be included when he doesn't invest the time to hang out with people. Just because he sees Hula and C3 more regularly doesn't mean that Tim or I should be held to the same level of familiarity. It's not out of malice, just simply about people with who you have a current connection.

    Tuesday, September 25, 2007

    The lows of resale

    Reading things like this remind me of why I'm not always comfortable buying from sites such as Craigslist and Ebay. As much as I like the concept of recycling and things like the Compact, it unfortunately also encourages the evil world of theft.

    "Hi - My black macbook was stolen from my car while eating dinner in SJ on Wednesday September 12th. The serial number is 4H6201HFVMN and it was in a black backpack.

    I'll offer a reward (how much depends on how much of my backpack comes with it) but at a minimum i thought I'd get the word out on this laptop in case someone is thinking about buying one and finds this machine.

    It's been reported to the Police and to Apple so trying to get it serviced or phone support for it will end up in an awkward conversation for whomever needs assistance with it... There was another friend's computer stolen at the same time as well as three other cars broken into and had stuff stolen so whomever is selling it is someone who makes a habit of it and doesn't deserve your money. They're a cowardly thief that makes money on the misfortune of others.

    Some punk named jedi9000@yahoo.com sent me a mail claiming to have the unit and claiming to be in the proces of parting it out b/c he thinks i don't have the major module serial numbers. Well jedi9000@yahoo.com, I do have access to that (HDD serial number is ST9120821AS, the MAC address of the computer is 00:16:cb:cc:50:ba so check these things before you buy!). In the meantime, i'll leave your email address here so other lowlife dirtbags can crawl this page, get your email address and send you spam."


    I love the idea of saving money by getting this on sale, but this makes me feel a little guilty. I must admit that whenever I browse the pages and pages of NWT and NWOT designer clothing makes me wonder how they get such items, especially when they are still in stores. I realize there is a group of sellers that legitimately cannot return the items and changed their minds. There is surely, however, a number of people who sell items for which they never paid.

    I once worked part-time for a year in a popular retail store. For weeks, someone was stealing flatware. We joked that they were probably working to build up a set of 8 place settings. They were very smart about how to disguise the theft so that it went unnoticed for several hours. Also, when inventory was done on the smaller kitchen items, more than $20,000 in inventory was missing in a six-month period. Maybe most of this stuff was theft for personal use (or gifts), but just imagine how much more reasonable prices would be if stores didn't have to worry so much about theft.

    When the time comes for me to buy a laptop, I'm going to make sure to write down all the computer information and store it somewhere safe.

    Monday, September 24, 2007

    New chapters

    It's all about television this week. Besides going to the gym and having a crack in my wall inspected, my eyes will be glued to the tv virtually every night this week.

    The new tv show season has started and I'm so excited!!!

    Monday - "How I Met Your Mother," "Dancing with the Stars" (in between other shows), and "Heroes"

    Tuesday - "Bones" and "House"

    Wednesday - "Kitchen Nightmares," maybe "Bionic Woman

    Thursday - "Survivor" (we'll see how long I last) and "Grey's Anatomy"

    Friday - Has there been anything good on Fridays since "X-Files?"

    Saturday - FOOTBALL

    Yikes, this is a lot of tv... and when January rolls around I'll finally get to watch "Lost."

    Sometimes I think about all the interesting things other people I know do at night, like work, read, volunteer, hobbies. That's when I wonder if I should enrich myself with something or join some professional society to broaden my mind and hone my skills. But damn, it's just so nice to kick back and relax.

    Wednesday, September 19, 2007

    Spam wasn't so bad until Africa

    We all get spammed, it's a fact of life. The one account I've had since forever gets a decent amount of spam. Fortunately, I learned early after giving my e-mail to someone whom I later learned worked for a spam-like company. I still think she sold my name as part of a list. These days, I get a lot of untitled e-mails and lame attempts titled "You have an e-card!"

    My general e-mail account gets an enormous amount of spam. Within days, the junk folder gets up into the hundreds. It's rare there's anything worthwhile to look at unless I'm interested in my pharmacy prescription, Rolex watches, secret shopping, a larger penis, and $500 gifts cards.

    Another account I have originally meant to be a spam account but ended up being an online dating account. Occasionally, I'd sign up for mailings from stores. For three years I didn't get a single piece of spam.

    Recently, I slipped and used the e-mail address to inquire about a room reservation for a hotel in Africa. Yipes, was that a mistake. I swear it has to be because of this one contact. Now, I'm getting the most obnoxious kind of e-mail I've ever seen. The subtle titles I get on my other accounts have been amusing and suggestive. Whatever list my third account has been put on is down right annoying. The titles I have today, like "hookers" and "cheap sluts." What if I was a kid? At least my e-mails titled "Penis enlargement" are somewhat more... health related.

    I know I can't prove it, but I'm pretty sure it was due to this hotel. ARGH!!! I hate to perpetuate the bad image about African countries, but this doesn't help with my impression that they have some crooked people over there. I'm a nice girl, I don't want to see this stuff. Oh well, time to ditch that account!

    Thursday, September 13, 2007

    Is there more still to accomplish?

    I went to my therapy session knowing I had little to say. I rambled on about how work is mind-numbingly boring this week. There are always little things to do, going to the library, returning stuff to the store, filling out passport visa forms, getting postage from the post office. I talked about how this was a rather boring simple week.

    The silence and exchanges of stares made it clear that I had little to say. I've been coming to this place for almost four years. It's what kept me sane some weeks through getting over Ryan and dealing with the absurdities and frustrations of dating. It's been an opportunity to talk aloud about my issues without looking like one of those homeless people who aimlessly wanders the streets talking to themselves (and answers).

    Over the past year, I've been wondering how one is supposed to know when therapy is no longer needed. It's not exactly cheap to pay to talk to someone for an hour every week. It's not that expensive either (given that I don't have a daily $4 coffee habit or cable tv). Still, it's money that I question whether I still need to be spending rather than put in the bank or spend to get a slightly nicer hotel on my next vacation. I started here because I was having trouble coping, but now my life is more stable.

    I have spells where there's little I want or need to say to my therapist. It's a funny contrast to Is who I know looks forward to babbling all her drama each week to her therapist. She operates differently than me. She can't stand the idea of sleeping in a tent, and I refuse to wear the skimpy Forever 21 clothing she buys.

    Overall, for better or worse, I'm a pretty self-contained person. My understanding of how people socialize and behave may be limited, but I can understand myself pretty well. I know what it is I need to do and why I procrastinate from changing personal quirks that could make my life better.

    On the other hand, it is good to have someone who will listen and not judge me, unlike myself or mother. Everyone around me seems to know that I'm very critical of myself and set expectations that are unrealistic (although I think they're totally reasonable, I'm just not willing to work that hard).

    So back to the question... how do I know it's time to move on? More often than before we have those pauses where I have nothing to say. There are days where I feel like I have to come up with something to make the hour move. My therapist, at times, thinks that I filter my discussions because I predetermined that some topics are not important. That's when she reminds me, "let me be the judge of that."

    There will always be issues to discuss. Everyone has something they could talk about when you have a fight with an SO, have a bad day at work, disagree with a friend. The things I need to work through with Tim are something for me, but I don't think she can directly help me solve them. I feel like what needs to be done lies between me and Tim. We need to work through this together.

    Admittedly, there's part of me that just wants my free time back to myself. I hate always needing to leave work early and having to be late to evening events one day a week. I want my flexibility back. I can't tell you how many activities and events I've passed up over the years because of this time commitment.

    I think I'm ready to go it on my own. More often in the past year, I've come into the office with nothing to share. Is that not an indication that I'm handling life? Of course, that's easy to say when it seems things are going well. As Is once said, it seems like you only need to talk to your therapist when there's some kind of drama going on in your life.

    The weird thing is that this is a business arrangement. Isn't it a conflict of interest to decide whether your patient is ready to move on? I mean, if they say you no longer need to come, they're out money. How do I bring up this discussion?

    Tuesday, September 11, 2007

    The Autism-Spectrum Quotient Test

    Someone posted this quiz link in the comments section of Megan's blog. I found it entertaining.

    I scored in the high 20s on this test. Yipes! I wanted to laugh at myself when I read statement #6 because I SOOOOOOO do this and turned into a party trick.

    So what's the difference between someone who's simply good at math and someone who's potentially autistic? Does this explain some of my disinterest in large groups?

    -----------------------------------------------------
    Psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen and his colleagues at Cambridge's Autism Research Centre have created the Autism-Spectrum Quotient, or AQ, as a measure of the extent of autistic traits in adults. In the first major trial using the test, the average score in the control group was 16.4. Eighty percent of those diagnosed with autism or a related disorder scored 32 or higher. The test is not a means for making a diagnosis, however, and many who score above 32 and even meet the diagnostic criteria for mild autism or Asperger's report no difficulty functioning in their everyday lives.

    Take The AQ Test

    Friday, September 07, 2007

    What happened to you?

    I was watching a rerun of "Gray's Anatomy" last night. It was the one where Meredith's mother is lucid for a time. She wants to get to know Meredith and acts all nice. It's clear Meredith is happy as she tries to hint at the joys in her crazy life. Unfortunately, all her mother hears is that she's not being aggressive about her job and that some man is distracting her. Clearly Meredith was hoping for a more touching "reunion."

    As I watched, I couldn't help think about my own life. There's a part of me that's pretty competitive and sets high expectations for myself. I've never been happy with who I am because I always thought I could do better and feel like I'm not living up to my potential. I meet people who are far smarter and far more socially skilled than I will ever be. It's frustrating sometimes, but on the other hand I sometimes don't want to be on that path. It would require me to give up part of who I am now.

    The other reason watching this struck a chord is because I've been keeping a secret from most people until recently. I haven't talked much about dating because Tim and I have revisited dating each other. It started after my vacation earlier this summer. Being apart, it was clear we missed each other. After some talks, we went on a couple "dates." I put that in quotes because we spend so much time together as friends, it barely seems different.

    Things are going well, and, in fact, he's the one who went with me on a tropical vacation. We had the best time and really enjoyed just being together. There's truly a special bond between us. The vacation is probably one of the best I can recall.

    That said, however, some of the things that were a concern for me the first time around are still there. At least this time, we're talking about them. He knows that I don't appreciate his badly timed humor. I recognize that I can nag and whine a bit too often. We both need to develop some patience and learn to constructively discuss things.

    Tim was very understanding about my preference to keep things quiet for awhile. Given our history and a handful of well-meaning, but nosy friends, I wanted to avoid immediate pressure and curiosity. If we couldn't work things out, I didn't want to have to explain again a brief attempt at dating a second time. Enough time has now passed that I feel like we're really working at this. It's also clear that Tim has gotten to a point where he no longer wants to dodge people's questions about his dating life.

    We still have some obstacles to overcome. There's one big one we're tackling now. It's complicated and a bit too personal for me to write about just yet. Unfortunately it's something that must be worked around rather than fixed or changed, so it's going to be a longer process. In my opinion, there'll be some sacrifice from both of us on this matter. I don't like that either of us will have to lose anything, but hopefully there's enough else to make up for it that we won't notice in time.

    For me personally, the next hurdle will be my mother. On one hand, she'd be happy to just know that I'm not alone anymore and that maybe I'd be married someday. On the other hand, he's not the right ethnicity in her eyes. He's also not tall enough, not from a good family, blah, blah, blah. She will look down on him (and Tim knows that). I dread hearing the judgemental comments that she will share with me whenever we talk. I don't know how to manage this part. It is what it is.

    All that matters right now is that I'm happy. I love knowing he's going to give me a hug and kiss me when I see him. I know that he loves me for who I am. I look forward to cooking meals and sitting down to eat dinner with him. Whatever happens, I'm having fun and can enjoy life for a little while. These are the times I hope I can look back on years from now when I need a smile.

    Monday, August 27, 2007

    Think tropical

    I'm off for an extra long weekend vacation... I'm looking forward to dipping my feet into some beautiful blue waters.

    In the meantime, I highly recommend peaking in on the San Diego Zoo's Pandacam and the newborn panda sleeping with Mama, Bai Yun. It's such a peaceful sight.

    Friday, August 24, 2007

    Smaller and leaner

    The layoffs came as expected. Everyone was on pins and needles the afternoon beforehand. We all expected to receive an e-mail in the late afternoon announcing meetings in the morning. At least, that's what happened in the last round.

    For whatever reason, they changed the format this time. Perhaps it was because fewer people were being laid off. Instead, this time, it was a matter of whether the calendar appointments that magically appeared on your calendar (time stamped 7pm the previous night) were individual meetings with your manager and/or HR.

    My inbox showed a group meeting for 10am. There was one person missing from the e-mail. Soon after, I saw her walk by to join the VP for a meeting. It could only mean she was getting a package. Our admin noted that when she left the office, he had a large, white envelope in his hand. She's a smart gal, so it's unfortunate that we're losing her. It wasn't really a surprise, however, given that she has recently moved and was trying to work remotely. In my limited experience, the level of communication with her had gone down considerably because of her physical absence.

    The biggest heartbreak for me was learning that my former boss, the person who brought me into the company, was let go. Savant was key to the company's early success with the product. It's rare to meet someone who is so sharp and strategic. I think Savant has known the writing was on the wall for months. It was growing more obvious that he was not coming in as early as before, nor did he take his computer home at night.

    I learned a lot from Savant. It was great to have such a positive and supportive manager. Many of us were very loyal to Savant, so it's hard to imagine what the office will be like going forward.

    People are mostly taking the layoffs well. There is a minority of people who are making things difficult. They've been asked to continue working through the end of the year to help transition their roles. Naturally, you can guess that some people are resentful and not wanting to help out as much with day-to-day duties they would normally have done. It's causing some feathers to get ruffled.

    That said, I also worry about the comments people have made in groups about those people. One person in particular, Lido, who I must work with on a regular basis, is lacking in sensitivity. While I understand his frustration (and there is a history of clashes between the two), Lido lacks professionalism in his behavior.

    Recently, we had a meeting to update some managers about the upcoming changes in the organization. Lido is working with his team to get some projects approved and has run into roadblocks. The managers asked when he estimated the projects would be approved. His comment to the twenty-some people in the room was, "Today hopefully, assuming that [said person] had taken her medication today."

    Most people laughed at the comment because there is a strong sense of comradery in that group. Personally, I think that was a very harsh comment that's uncalled for and quite improper. It makes me wonder what he says about me behind my back. I don't know that I really want to be around Lido much, but I have to work with him (thank goodness he's not my manager). My other people (at least the women I've talked to) all find him uncomfortable to work with because he's difficult to read and has an unpredictable mood.

    Obviously, these next few months are going to be filled with a variety of challenges. While I'm thankful to still have a job, part of me would have been just as content to say "adios." This will never be the place that it once was.

    For now, I tell myself this is a good opportunity to build some other managing skills. I for one am someone who learns best by doing. As much as I hate conflict, I know it will help me do things better in the future. Six months from now, I'll re-evaluate and think about whether it's time to change jobs.

    Thursday, August 23, 2007

    What does this mean?

    Sale? Match.com? The two words don't seem to have any relationship to each other. And yet... I look up one of my deal finding site and scroll down much farther than I normally would to find this:

    ***************************************************
    match.com 72-hour sale: Up to 88% off membership fees

    Online dating service match.com takes up to 88% off its membership fees via this
    link. For example, get 6 months for $4.25/month, or $25.50 total. It's the best membership deal we've seen from match.com. Discount ends August 25.
    Hotness: hotness: 3/5
    Posted 7 hrs, 21 mins ago
    ****************************************************

    I'm still trying to believe this. It's like skipping one latte and scone per month. What could motivate them to offer this? Was this meant to be a special deal for a select group of people. Is this the slow time of the year for dating? Did they know it would end up on the Internet for everyone to take advantage of?

    Seriously, I post this for all you readers that might want to give it a go and share your adventures on your blog for me to read. ;)

    Wednesday, August 22, 2007

    Sorry, my interpreter is not here

    This is another one of those examples of me failing to take things at face value, reading too much into things, or general cluelessness.

    I stopped by the library after work yesterday to return some books. I happened to spot a space directly in front of the building entrance. Remembering the fine parallel parking lessons given to me by Mr. R (who was also our math teacher), I pulled forward to line myself up with the car ahead of my space.

    As I was backing in, I noticed a guy crossing the street. He stopped just before passing in front of me to look back at his car, pointing his key fob back towards his car. I didn't think much of it other than, "he must have forgotten to lock his car."

    Just about when half my car has passed the left corner of the front car, I turned my wheel counterclockwise to begin straightening into the parking space. My eyes moved up to the rear view mirror to see how close I was to the minivan behind me.

    Momentarily distracted by the fact I was a tad too far away from the curb, I stopped to realize that it looked like I was about the hit the minivan. After driving a sedan for ten years having rear cargo space is tough to adjust to because I tend to think I'm closer to objects than I actually am. I don't think I hit the minivan.

    I tried to move myself in closer to the curb but gave up after one attempt. My stop would probably be less than 10 minutes so why fret over a parking job that few people would notice.

    To take advantage of the warm weather, I was dressed in a deep blue, ruched shirt that picked up the blue circles in my geranium pink and yellow skirt. I walked in and headed straight for the return slots. As I turned to my left, I quickly noticed a guy waiting in the circulation line. He seemed to be glancing at me.

    Once I had dropped off my books, I walked around the circulation to find a book. As I passed the line, I realized the guy at the front of the line was the guy who had crossed the street earlier. He was probably in his 30s, dark-skinned (probably Indian), and wearing his sunglasses. He appeared to be having a friendly conversation with a slightly older woman behind him.

    When I walked within 10 feet, he looked towards me (so I assume since he was wearing dark sunglasses) and commented, "nice parking job" in a lovely British accent.

    I had no idea what to think of his comment. I simply put on a big smile and walked past the two of them. There was no sarcasm in his voice, he seemed perfectly normal. And yet, I wasn't sure why he was talking to me. My typical reaction is to think that somehow I'm being teased or made fun of. (Such is my reaction from many elementary years of playmate teasing.)

    As I walked out of the library, I thought about the situation. Was he making fun? Did I almost bump him while I was trying to park? Was he simply being friendly? Was he trying to hit on me because I looked cute?

    What should I have said or done?

    I hopped in my car and got ready to leave. I couldn't help look over to where I thought he came from and saw a shiny, black Audi TT parked with generous spacing between it and the cars sandwiching it. The rim of the alloy wheel looked scratch from curb scrapes.

    Thursday, August 16, 2007

    Yes, that's my name

    I came across this article today. I thought it was amusing and shows that celebrities aren't the only people looking for novel baby names. Of course, Asians probably have a more justifiable reason for looking for something unique given the limited number of surnames. Imagine if a quarter of the population ended in Smith or Johnson.

    Using a symbol like "@" reminds me of Prince. It's just a lame way to be named. Think about how much teasing this child may go through at school.

    Of course, then I think about a friend of mine who complains that he can't write his own Chinese name because his dad had to pick the most complicated character for his first name. His dad is a very educated man who chose American names that had distinct meaning, but at least they were names you find in a baby book.

    In this case, maybe it's a good thing the government can reject your paperwork.

    ---------------------------------------------
    Couple Tries to Name Baby 'At' Symbol

    Thursday, August 16, 2007

    (08-16) 08:21 PDT BEIJING, China (AP) --


    A Chinese couple seeking a distinctive and modern name for their child chose the commonly used Internet 'at' symbol, much to the consternation of Chinese officials.

    The unidentified couple and the attempted naming were cited Thursday by a Chinese government official as an example of bizarre names creeping into the Chinese language.

    The father "said 'the whole world uses it to write e-mails and translated into Chinese it means 'love him,'"' Li Yuming, the vice director of the State Language Commission, said at a news conference.

    The symbol pronounced in English as 'at' sounds like the Chinese phrase "love him."

    Written Chinese does not use an alphabet but is comprised of characters, sometimes making it difficult to develop new words for new or foreign things and ideas.

    In their quest for a different name, Li said that the parents of baby '@' were not alone. As of last year, only 129 surnames accounted for 87 percent of all surnames in China, Li said, suggesting that the uniformity drove people to find more individual given names.

    "There was even a 'Zhao-A,' a 'King Osrina' and other extremely individualistic names," Li said, according to a transcript of the news conference posted on the government's main web site, .

    Li did not say whether police, who are the arbiters of names because they issue identity cards, rejected baby '@' and the others. But nationwide last year there were 60 million people's names that used "unfamiliar characters," Li said.

    www.gov.cn

    Wednesday, August 15, 2007

    Ghost town

    As I mentioned, we all waiting for word of impending layoffs. People around me are pretty nervous. I had lunch with my old boss yesterday and she was acting as if she'll be cut. She kept saying how great it's been and what a wonderful ride we've had together. It was disconcerting to hear her say this with her always pleasant attitude.

    Usually when I arrive, there are at least two or three people in their offices. Each day, it seems people arrive a little later and leave a little earlier. This morning, I came in at my usual time to find only one person in the area, the temp administrative person. No one else showed up until almost an hour later! I commented to the temp that I couldn't help wonder if I had missed a memo. What secret meeting was I not invited too?

    I understand it's unnerving and worrisome to think about layoffs. We all want to know what's going to happen. Still, I don't understand this work ethic. If you are ready to go and don't care, fine, come late and leave early. I would probably behave that way a little. But if you want your job, shouldn't you still come at the normal hour? I don't necessarily work 100% or even 80% these days, but at least I'm present.

    Even so, I think it's important to have a good attitude about your work and finish things so that others (including those you may need a recommendation from for that next job) see that you are a reliable and honorable person.

    Saturday, August 11, 2007

    Messing with endings

    I don't know... I love the show but I'm happy where it ended. Then I saw this the other day:

    Chris Noth to return as Mr. Big in movie
    The Associated Press
    Article Launched: 08/10/2007 11:30:37 AM PDT

    NEW YORK—Mr. Big and Carrie Bradshaw will be together again, this time on the big screen.

    Chris Noth, who played Sarah Jessica Parker's love interest on HBO's "Sex and the City," is slated to reprise his role in a feature film spun from the long-running TV series.

    Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon will also reprise their roles for the romantic comedy, to be distributed by New Line Cinema in association with HBO.

    "There is no need for funeral arrangements," said Michael Patrick King, who will direct the film. "I assure you that Mr. Big is a very 'big' part of the 'Sex and the City' movie."

    "While I have not spoken to him myself, Chris Noth assures me that Mr. Big is alive and well and ready to report to the set in September," King said in a statement Wednesday.

    King was one of the executive producers of the TV series, which ended in 2004.


    What drama could they possibly create that would be realistic and could be neatly wrapped up in two hours? The only thing I can think of is a wedding and all the trite drama and slapstick associated with getting to the alter. They did such a great job leaving the ending simple and happy - why stir up trouble?

    Thursday, August 09, 2007

    Where do my feet go?

    My company is going through some big layoffs. We already went through some last year so people are rather ambivalent about this situation. I can still remember last year as we all crowded together between cubes asking the status of each other and others down the corridor. It was sad to watch as week after week people sent goodbye e-mails expressing the mixed emotions, remembering the good times and wishing everyone luck finding a new job.

    Many signals had been floating around signaling this new wave of layoffs. The size of the layoffs was the unexpected part. We still have a mini-wave this week that could directly impact the people (including myself) who I interact with regularly. A few people already know and are taking it well. Frankly, we've all been here for awhile and perhaps this is a good way to get some people off their butts to find a better or new challenge. As sad as we all are to see people go, no one's particular sad about going.

    My feelings about possibly leaving are very mixed. You may remember that last year I was expressing a yearning for taking a break or quiting. I was unhappy with my life in general which made being at work rather unappealing. Now, I'm in a position where I'm comfortable. I have a job that's not incredibly stressful but still interesting most of the time, and I have an incredibly easy commute.

    I sat down with my manager the other day as part of our "regular" meetings. The timing was so that he naturally wanted to ask me how I'm feeling about the situation. It was difficult for me to answer because there are several components to my feelings. He probably sensed my ambivalence about my job status.

    The past year has been okay. In every job, I'd say there are phases of boredom and phases of intense interest as projects come and go. Unfortunately, those phases of boredom have been more frequent the past couple of years, partially due to circumstance beyond anyone's control. Still, I've learned a good deal, taking on projects that required me to interact with different people and try new techniques. In the back of my mind, however, I had been feeling an itch to leave. Working on the same product for five years is a long time. I want to learn something new.

    When the company relocated, however, my commute became so easy and the work load required little overtime. It was perfect because it gave me more time to enjoy myself with after-work activities. I've been experiencing wonderful work-life balance. That said, it's made me complacent about wanting to leave for my career's sake. I haven't had much interest in developing my career because I just wanted to be happy. This is something I chose not to really bring up with my boss. Who wants people to know that you aren't working that hard?

    The factor that I chose to bring up was that about being part of the team. Most of the people who are my equal or above are men. The people I must work most closely with behave with somewhat of a "boys club" mentality. It's subtle, it's probably not completely intentional, but it's there. One person in particular is difficult to read. I am only one of several people who have expressed difficulty working with him.

    I'm no social butterfly, there are things I need to learn and practice. But I'd like to think that I've tried to have casual conversations to get a read on what's happening and make suggestions about initiating projects that could be supportive to the department's goals and strategies. With all the "fire fighting" that's been going on for the past year, however, I feel like I've been left to guess and get second-hand hints of what happens. Our monthly department meetings haven't been held since... November? It's difficult for me to contribute with projects and information when I don't know what's happening. I think my boss appreciated that I want to be more involved.

    I told my boss that I've been feeling underutilized. My work has been valuable, but once I share my results with people, it seems the run off with it and never talk with me about it again. It's weird to have others mention they've seen my work but I've had no involvement in what they saw. I'm trying not to take this personally, my stance is more that, as a department, I'm not being consulted about things. How can I do my job when I can't see how people react and what actions or discussion arise from my work?

    My manager acknowledged some of these deficiencies. I ever offered that if there was something I was failing to do that I'd appreciate some suggestions or pointers on how to improve. It was scary to say all this, but I knew it was important to voice my concerns.

    He also asked me about my future plans. First, he asked where I see myself in five years. I told him that somewhere along the line that I'd like to try a slightly different career path to test my interests. If that didn't work out, then I'd come back to my current career. My answer didn't seem to give him what he was looking for, so he narrowed the time range and asked what I'd like to be doing in two years. The answer for that was easy, I told him I want to be working on a different product. The minute I said it, I wondered if I was putting myself at risk. Does this signal to him that it's not in his interest to keep me?

    In terms of how I'm feeling about the layoffs, I told him of my ambivalence. I said it's hard no matter what because we went through this last year. Being in an atmosphere where people are scared and distracted, it's tough to be productive. He made it clear that I needed to tell him whether or not I want to be here. The implication in his tone and his facial expression implied to me that if I wanted to be laid off, he'd make sure I got the package. My response was that I enjoy what I do but that's it's difficult in this environment. Hopefully, he also understands that I won't stay if the communications issues don't improve.

    It's all a little scary. As much as he hinted that he wants to keep someone in my position, I'm not willing to bet money that I still have a job. Our sister department knows all but for sure they will all be losing their jobs. It's weird to be so open with someone, you never know how much you can trust management. I think for the most part, my boss is a decent person. That said, I know there's a part I can't trust because he has to do what's best for the company (and his buddies). Perhaps I should more firmly express my desire to be here to ensure that I keep my job. But frankly, my ambivalence keeps me from making that effort.

    Taking the package is tempting, I would have enough money from the severance to not work through Christmas. Gosh, it would be nice to have some free time eh? I've always wanted to be one of those people who spend hours at the library in the middle of the work day. Then again, what are the chances of getting hired during the holidays? And, sometimes, it's kind of nice to go out on your own terms rather than be pushed out. If I knew for sure what I wanted my next job to be, I would be more tempted to leave, but since I'm still trying to figure that out, I want to enjoy my comfortable position for now.