27 October 2006

I got this letter today

Inclusion is considered by many as the single highest mark of achievement.

I didn't know you liked dog food

My pilates instructor showed me a picture of her dog last week. It's a great dane - lab mix, 100 lbs, has a head like Mocha's, the coloring of a hound and the body of a dane. I love big dogs; they're great companions and very huggable.

Thinking about dogs got me thinking of my folks. Then again, I was thinking of my folks before then -- it's the start of the holiday season, and family is always on my mind about now. Probably because I only see them every three years or so, and everyone thinks about their folks around this time of year.


Mom started with one cat.

A cat made sense. We needed a low maintenance pet. There were already too many people -- Mom, Dad, Grandpa, KC (bro), the housekeeper and myself -- living in our apartment overlooking the heart of HK.

We had had other pets, but with little success. There were the tropical fish in a ginormous aquarium. They weren't very interactive and needed a lot of care, so once we tired of them, Mom donated the whole kit and caboodle to my high school Biology department.

There were the birds. They were smaller than my palm and came in shades of yellow and white with the occasional peep of green. Like most small birds in HK, they lived in tiny cages that could be moved from room to room whenever we wanted the company. However, we never took our birds for walks like some of our neighbors.

The birds brought color and song into our red silk and gold brocade, rosewood, lacquer, glass and porcelain Chinese home. They were there to greet the mahjong players on the nights Mom or Grandma hosted. They kept Grandpa company in the early light of morning and fading hours of the afternoon when he sat on his small stool on the balcony overlooking the harbor, cultivating clippings he'd collected on his daily walk and pruning plants so they grew into tiny, graceful, perfectly shaped bonsai trees. Afterwards, he'd perform his daily tea ritual. Those were my favorite moments with Grandpa. Since I can't speak Chinese and he can't speak English, tea was the one thing we could do together.

Then, the birds were gone. The cage doors had been left open while they were on the balcony. Mom feared the birds would die unless we got them back right away -- they weren't bred for the wild. We left the cages on the balcony with the doors open and feeders full, hoping the birds would come back, but we lived on the 18th floor of a 28 floor high rise apartment building. Birds smaller than my palm can't fly up that high. Eventually, Mom gave up, and we gave the cages away.

So, none of us protested when it became two cats. We put up with cat hair all over our clothes, the occasional cat "accident," the frequent cat poo in the tub (a nasty habit), the unexpected and traumatizing scratches and the hissing catfights that broke the silence of the night whenever two or more cats encountered each other while prowling the dark rooms of our home. We put up with it because we knew it made Mom happy, and we wanted her happiness.

Eventually, we had five cats.

After the Asian financial crash in the late 90s when Dad was let go from his joint venture (and joint ventures in southeast Asia fell out of favor for a long time), Grandpa had passed away and KC left for college, Mom and Dad moved to a duplex in the suburbs (New Territories). They had a garage for the car and a small yard where Dad grew papayas, mangos and lychees. To keep him company in his free time, he got a dog. After all, Mom had five cats.

I went home over Thanksgiving three years ago, and Dad and I went hiking, sightseeing in China and hung out at home while Mom was at work. We spent countless hours walking the dog, playing with the dog, and occasionally, we'd water the plants.

So, it came as little surprise when I got a call from my mother a few months after I had returned to New York, "Your father! That man! He spends hours with that dog. He's spent so much money on toys for that dog. He comes home from walking that dog and acts like it's a contest between his dog and other dogs, saying things like, 'Guess what, our neighbor said our dog was the best looking one in the neighborhood. Even better looking than the Chu's dog down the street.' He treats that dog better than his kids!"

When Dad got on the phone, I teasingly feigned offense and jealousy, "Hey Dad, how's the dog? I heard you treat him better than you treat your kids. You got him toys and you play with him a lot? You never bought us toys or played with us when we were growing up."

There was a moment of silence. Then, "Well, I didn't know you liked dog food or I would have gotten you some years ago."

26 October 2006

Kevin's Band Plays at the Red Lion

Fugue State
Thursday, Nov 2
At the Red Lion
7:30 pm

Are ya going to be there, or what?

25 October 2006

A bourgeois uprising?

Now this is ironic.

Isn't the bourgeoisie what modernity is all about? The death of religion, the focus on creature comforts, success in the here and now, yada yada.

Oh right. We're past that. It's not enough to just be comfortable anymore. There goes the American Dream. We're post-modern now.

Got it.

...the hopes and dreams of today's educated class are based on the idea that market capitalism is a meritocracy. The unreachable success of the superrich shreds those dreams.

"I've seen it in my research," says pollster Doug Schoen, who counsels Michael Bloomberg and Hillary Clinton, among others. "If you look at the lower part of the upper class or the upper part of the upper middle class, there's a great deal of frustration. These are people who assumed that their hard work and conventional 'success' would leave them with no worries. It's the type of rumbling that could lead to political volatility."

Lower uppers are professionals who by dint of schooling, hard work and luck are living better than 99 percent of the humans who have ever walked the planet. They're also people who can't help but notice how many folks with credentials like theirs are living in Gatsby-esque splendor they'll never enjoy.

There's only so much of this a smart, vocal elite can take before the seams burst - and a bilious reaction against unmerited privilege starts oozing from every pore. Especially when it's clear to lower uppers that many ultras are reaping the rewards of rigged systems: CEOs who preside over tumbling stock prices, hedge fund managers who barely beat the market.

Sweat and tears

I'm not sure I buy this. While I'm certain most of us fall well within the bell curve and only excel by hard work, I do think some people just have natural abilities that others are born without. For example, no matter how hard I work at it, I'll never be a pro-football player. No matter which way you look at it, I'll always have some natural disadvantages.

What it takes to be great.

...You do not possess a natural gift for a certain job, because targeted natural gifts don't exist... You will achieve greatness only through an enormous amount of hard work over many years. And not just any hard work, but work of a particular type that's demanding and painful.

Scientific experts are producing remarkably consistent findings across a wide array of fields. Understand that talent doesn't mean intelligence, motivation or personality traits. It's an innate ability to do some specific activity especially well. British-based researchers Michael J. Howe, Jane W. Davidson and John A. Sluboda conclude in an extensive study, "The evidence we have surveyed ... does not support the [notion that] excelling is a consequence of possessing innate gifts."

The first major conclusion is that nobody is great without work. It's nice to believe that if you find the field where you're naturally gifted, you'll be great from day one, but it doesn't happen. There's no evidence of high-level performance without experience or practice.

Reinforcing that no-free-lunch finding is vast evidence that even the most accomplished people need around ten years of hard work before becoming world-class, a pattern so well established researchers call it the ten-year rule.

And as John Horn of the University of Southern California and Hiromi Masunaga of California State University observe, "The ten-year rule represents a very rough estimate, and most researchers regard it as a minimum, not an average." In many fields (music, literature) elite performers need 20 or 30 years' experience before hitting their zenith.

The best people in any field are those who devote the most hours to what the researchers call "deliberate practice." It's activity that's explicitly intended to improve performance, that reaches for objectives just beyond one's level of competence, provides feedback on results and involves high levels of repetition.

Consistency is crucial. As Ericsson notes, "Elite performers in many diverse domains have been found to practice, on the average, roughly the same amount every day, including weekends."

Evidence crosses a remarkable range of fields. In a study of 20-year-old violinists by Ericsson and colleagues, the best group (judged by conservatory teachers) averaged 10,000 hours of deliberate practice over their lives; the next-best averaged 7,500 hours; and the next, 5,000. It's the same story in surgery, insurance sales, and virtually every sport. More deliberate practice equals better performance. Tons of it equals great performance.

For most people, work is hard enough without pushing even harder. Those extra steps are so difficult and painful they almost never get done. That's the way it must be. If great performance were easy, it wouldn't be rare. Which leads to possibly the deepest question about greatness. While experts understand an enormous amount about the behavior that produces great performance, they understand very little about where that behavior comes from.

The authors of one study conclude, "We still do not know which factors encourage individuals to engage in deliberate practice." Or as University of Michigan business school professor Noel Tichy puts it after 30 years of working with managers, "Some people are much more motivated than others, and that's the existential question I cannot answer - why."

21 October 2006

Closing time

It's officially chilly out although I think I knew it a few weeks ago when I unrolled my sails in the middle of the living room and wiped them down for the last time and dug my soccer flats and shinguards out of the bottom of my closet. Putting away my summer play things and bringing out my fall ones signal the passing of a season which always makes me both a little introspective and retrospective.

This is a picture of EH on one of our last windsurfing days before the end of the season.

As I wiped down my 4.5 and 5.5 sails, cleaned off my carbon masts, dried off my boom, emptied the sand out of my quiver bag, and rinsed off my wetsuit and booties, I thought about the end of the season. Another summer. My goals going into the summer were to learn to rig my own equipment, beach and water start, jibe and plane. How much of it did I get done?

Am I happy with the speed at which I've been progressing? What should my goals be for the next season? What are the things I can do in my off season to make it easier for me to move to the next level next season?

I've been windsurfing for a little over 12 months, and since I live in the Northeast, that effectively means the amount of time actually spent on the water is more like 5 months. In that time, I have learned to consistently beach start, plane and rig my own sails (albeit slowly), as I own two of them (plus a roofrack for the Puny Pony and a plethora of extraneous equipment such as beach chairs, board shorts, rash guards, beach hats, a dozen bottles of sunblock, etc.).

While I'm no prodigy, I'm not unhappy with my progress. I definitely could have worked harder, but I didn't get out on the water until August so I didn't have as much time to practice as I would have liked. And, while I wish I have the skills to be a pro-windsurfer, I don't, so there's no need or pressure to progress at the speed of light. The most important thing is that I'm learning (not just the moves, but about myself) and having fun, both of which I do every time I step on the water.

Next year, I would like to own my own board, learn to jibe and beach start. In the meantime, I'll work on core strength, getting lean and balance. Here comes fall. Bring it on.

20 October 2006


This is so tacky.

A public relations firm has revealed that it is behind two blogs that previously appeared to be created by independent supporters of Wal-Mart.

The blogs Working Families for Wal-mart and subsidiary site Paid Critics are written by three employees of PR firm Edelman, for whom Wal-Mart is a paid client, according to information posted on the sites Thursday.

Last week a blog called "Wal-Marting Across America," which appeared to be created by a man and a woman traveling the country in an RV and staying in Wal-Mart parking lots, also turned out to be underwritten by Working Families for Wal-Mart.

Quick, hide me!


Scientists are boldly going where only fiction has gone before — to develop a Cloak of Invisibility.

In this first successful experiment, researchers from the United States and England were able to cloak a copper cylinder.

In an ideal situation, the cloak and the item it is hiding would be invisible. An observer would see whatever is beyond them, with no evidence the cloaked item exists.

In a very speculative application, he added, "one could imagine 'cloaking' acoustic waves, so as to shield a region from vibration or seismic activity."

Natalia M. Litchinitser, a researcher at the University of Michigan department of electrical engineering and computer science who was not part of the research team, said the ideas raised by the work "represent a first step toward the development of functional materials for a wide spectrum of civil and military applications."


Wg and Ch are engaged!

Who cares???

Great, so George O'Malley is played by a gay dude. So what?

Climate changes in the Northeast

From the Appalachian Mountain Club release:

In early October 2006, the Northeast Climate Impacts Assessment (NECIA), a collaboration between the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and a team of independent scientists, released the findings of a two-year study, “Climate Change in the U.S. Northeast” ... UCS uses science-based information to guide policy recommendations. The report indicates that without substantial measures taken to curtail heat-trapping emissions in the Northeast, global warming will substantially affect the Northeast’s climate and quality of life.

Regional and global climate change will directly affect the natural areas ... outdoors enthusiasts care about due to increasing temperatures, which have been reducing annual snowfall in the New England region. In addition, climate change has some nasty side-effects on air quality, including increasing risks to hiker health and decreasing visibility. AMC has been monitoring air quality in the mountains since the early 1980s.

Click here to do something about climate change.

Mark Jenkins leaves Outside

My favorite columnist from Outside Magazine is moving on. Looking forward to see what his next project will be.

19 October 2006

A glutton for punishment

In 2003, JF and I promised ourselves we'd pick up a wintersport. We spent two weekends breaking our tailbones trying to snowboard. It was hella fun, and if I had stuck to it, I might have actually been able to link turns at some point, but it got warm and spring put an end to our masochism.

As you might be able to guess, JF is a better photographer than he is a snowboarder. This shot taken in March 2003 is a lazy man's picture; JF had fallen and was too tired to get up.

I wasn't aware that my picture was being taken, but I vividly recall that moment. That's no cool snowboard pose. We had been busting our butts on the bunnyslope for hours. I was wicked tired and scared that if I sat down, I wouldn't want to get up again. The board kept me standing.

(This picture is for you EB.)

Those two weekends, give or take a few disastrous attempts to learn to snowboard in slush or on ice, about sums up all the snowboarding I've since done. This year is looking to be a great snow year, so I am going to try the wintersport scene again, even if it means I take a week, head out to the mountains by mydelf, and subject myself to being black and blue on a daily basis.

It'll be great, I'm sure. Ok, I'm lying. I'm a glutton for punishment.

Michael, what happened?

Jeffrey wins the season finale of Project Runway.

Maybe it wasn't an accident after all

Coincidink? Me thinks not. It's a Sting Ray conspiracy!

A leaping stingray stabbed an 81-year-old Florida boater in the chest, authorities said Wednesday...

Fire Department officials in Lighthouse Point, about 30 miles north of Miami, said James Bertakis was in a small recreational boat with two grandchildren Tuesday when the spotted eagle ray leaped aboard and struck him.

"It's just a real freak thing," Lt. Mike Sullivan told Reuters, saying the incident occurred on Florida's Intracoastal Waterway, where stingrays are rarely seen leaping in the air.

18 October 2006

someone, just let me sleep in for a day. the ramblings of a kiss-assy worker.

I am tired. Just got back from a client event, and...I'd just like a day where I can sleep past 6. That'd be nice.

Even nicer would be a few days to sleep without waking up to the melodious tunes of my fucking annoying alarm clock. But, that's just the slacker in me talking. I'll get over it tomorrow when I'm at work fielding 3 phone calls at a time and trying to respond to the hundreds of emails that flow through my inbox because well...when it comes to client related stuff, everything is urgent and needs to be actioned IMMEDIATELY. Right?

Man, I miss ADub. I can't wait for her to come back from vacation.

Looking forward to soccer practices starting soon. Can't wait to get out there and run around like a maniac. I'm still recovering from a cold, and as a result, haven't been very active. Last time I ran, I was moving at an 8:45 mile pace over the course of 4 miles. I'd really like to get to an average pace of an 8 minute mile over the course of 5 miles. Then, I'll amp up the mileage. Who knows? I might get to 26.2 miles at some point. First, let me get over this damn cold though because it's kicking the shit out of me.

I invited G to the client event tonight, and he mentioned on his way out that "work" me is a completely different person from "normal" me. Apparently, "normal" me doesn't give a shit about anything or what anyone thinks, but "work" me is very "kiss-assy." Look, I didn't make up that word -- he did.

Right out of a James Bond movie



17 October 2006

PC comes to town

PC was in town for a wedding, and as has become something of a tradition whenever he's here, we did dinner and a show. PC and I saw Wicked and then had dinner at WD-50 on Friday the 13th.

Wicked was hella cool. I got a little teary eyed, and I don't even really like musicals. (No, I'm not embarrassed to admit it.)

WD-50 was disappointing. I haven't been to the restaurant in over a year, and the place no longer feels innovative and experimental. The food is boring and gimmicky. The service, however, is still as amazing as ever -- I love the staff there.

PC and Me at WD-50

Franu -- PC remembers Ans! Something about him, W and Ans camping out at Turtle Cove...? He didn't realize you two are married. :-)

It's crazy to think that PC and I have known each other since our junior year of high school and managed to stay friends for the following reasons:

1. Man, are we old. (Not really, but I like saying that. Sometimes, I almost feel almost grown up.)

2. How did PC and I become friends in the first place? PC and I had no common friends in high school. He hung out with the Chinese kids and spoke fluent Catonese. I was a twinkie -- my parents wrote our home address in Chinese on a piece of paper that I carried on me so I could show strangers in case I got lost and didn't know how to get home -- and my high school friends were what can kindly be referred to as freaks and geeks. Myself included.

PC and I didn't play the same sports. He played tennis. I ran cross country and captained the crew team.

PC and I didn't have the same classes. This explains why I have no idea what classes he took. In the meantime, my classes were heavily into history, humanities, literature, political science and English.

3. And, once we became friends, how did PC and I manage to stay friends?

For this, I have to give PC most of the credit, since I am notoriously bad at keeping in touch -- one of my reasons for starting this blog.

PC moved to LA in our senior year of high school. Yet, he always remember to check in with his friends overseas. My mother adored him because he never called at odd hours despite the time difference, and he was always polite. To this day, she still asks how he's doing and what he's up to.

(Franu, my mother still asks about you and Ring as well.)

We went to college in different states, and afterwards, PC ended up in San Francisco. I did a stint in DC before ending up here. We have stayed friends over time and distance and seen each other through some of the requisite rituals of age -- boyfriends and girlfriends, jobs or career changes, the highs and lows, changes in address...the list goes on.

Some friendships are founded on shared interests or common acquaintances, but our friendship is built on a foundation not immediately apparent...to even ourselves. (Sometimes, those make the best kinds of friendships.) Even though we may not see or speak to each other on a regular basis, when we do hang out, it's always fun and like hanging out in high school all over again. There's no telling what lies ahead in life for either of us, but PC knows he has a friend in me, and I a friend in him.

What happened in Hawaii over the weekend

Check out Franu's first-hand account of the earthquake.

pissing everyone off

Finally, China, India and Tibetans can agree on something...

The Miss Tibet beauty pageant is in its fifth year, a budget contest in small town of McLeodganj that attracts only a handful of contestants but plenty of controversy.

Not surprisingly, the contest has irritated the Chinese, whose troops entered Tibet in 1950 and abhor the refugees' "splittist" agenda.

It has also irked conservative Tibetan Buddhists -- the prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile here once famously called it "un-Tibetan" and "aping Western culture."

This year it even managed to irritate the Indians -- one young woman serving with a high-altitude Tibetan unit in the Indian army was forced to withdraw on the eve of the contest.

In an attempt to generate a little more publicity, the organizers threw the controversial "swimwear round" open for public viewing for the first time this year.

Anything that promotes the Tibetan cause is worth supporting, says president B. Tsering, even if she draws the line at Tibetan girls parading around in bikinis to a crowd of leering men.

16 October 2006

He said what?

As I stood in the ladder aisle of Nyack's Home Depot weighing the merits of a steel, aluminum or fiberglass stepladder, a man who was checking out ladders with his significant other asked me if I was buying something for my boyfriend.

Mind you, he didn't ask who I was buying a ladder for. He asked if I was buying a ladder for my boyfriend, presupposing that I would (could?) not buy a ladder for myself.

Naturally, I gave him my I-don't-know-what-to-do-so-I'll-be-polite-because-that's-what-I-do-best smile and politely told him, no sir, I was buying a ladder for myself.

(There's a good possibility that my buying a ladder for myself would not have occured to him, but one would have to ask why. After all, being a small person such as myself would imply that I'd need a ladder more often than most. In fact, I ought to start carrying a ladder with me all times. It would certainly help with day-to-day tasks such as reaching those elusive boxes staring down on me from the top shelf at the grocers. I usually have to climb/step up on a few shelves to reach those boxes, which is a lawsuit waiting to happen.)

The stranger then very enthusiastically recommended I get the Little Giant Ladder and started to demonstrate. His significant other sighed. She sat on a stepladder step, crossed her legs and examined her long red nails. She may have been bored.

I flashed my teeth at him and politely told him that I had already decided on the stepladder I'd buy.

The strange man proceeded to tuck a Little Giant Ladder under his arm and walk down the aisle. His significant other followed in her leopard skin coat, her high heels clicking loudly on the poured concrete floor.

I took my stepladder and walked down the aisle in the other direction.

I am starting to wonder:
Do I look lost or confused?
Do I look like an asshole? (Oh wait. We've already established the answer to that one.)
Do I look like I might have stuck quarters or crayons up my nose as a child?

Who knows?

All I do know is...if I stuck anything up my nose as a child, I'm not telling. You'll never know.

15 October 2006

Did you think I forgot?

Ok, I'm late as always, but I haven't forgotten.

Happy birthday Franu!

Call me when all is well with Hawaii. The latest reports say it was a 6.5.

Is everyone okay?

Wow, Franu.

Thanks for calling me -- I would have worried once I read the news.

I just read the reports. It looks pretty bad. They're saying it's a 4.2, but these are preliminary, so who knows...

Your families, Ring, et al okay? Cats?

I'm at work, so call or text message if you need anything or there's anything I can do to help.

Talk soon.

13 October 2006

The "new" service economy

makes it so there are a lot of displaced people out there.

A man who couldn't find steady work came up with a plan to make it through the next few years until he could collect Social Security: He robbed a bank, then handed the money to a guard and waited for police.

Bowers said he had been able to find only odd jobs after the drug wholesaler he made deliveries for closed in 2003. He walked to a bank and handed a teller a note demanding cash in an envelope.

Bowers handed the money to a security guard standing in the lobby and told him it was his day to be a hero.

Holy shit! Giant wha..?

I know it's a little circular here, but you gotta go to super duper cool KatieG's entry.

12 October 2006

Case in point

I just received an email from someone on my team:

SUBJECT: Don't kill me
...I was not able to get the following ... [you requested].
PLEASE DO NOT KILL ME TOMORROW. I will have it [done] first thing in the morning once [everyone is in the office].

My response:
Don't sweat it. :-)

Her response:
Ok thank you for understanding!! See you tomorrow!


Not only am I an asshole, but I'm also have an undeserved reputation for being a hardass. At least I think it's undeserved.

Oh crap, I'm a bureaucrorat

I can't put a finger on when or where it happened, but it happened. Slowly, I'd say. One moment, I was clearly and solidly standing in the safe gray area of indifference, and the next, it had become very evident that I had reached the point of no return. You know, the point beyond which one must either see a series of events to the end or continue forward because it is physically impossible to turn back. Yes, I had crossed over to the dark side.

You guessed it. I've become an asshole.

You know the asshole. You probably know him well. He's the guy that you promised yourself you'd never be when you grow up. If you grow up. The kind of asshole that tells people what to do. That uses words like competitive landscape, time management, constructive criticism, work-flow, value-added, take-aways and actionable items. The kind of asshole that delegates, manages expectations, has strategy meetings and speaks only in sound bytes.

It became painfully apparent to me what an asshole I've become when I turned to someone during our weekly staff meeting today and asked her to write down some important points so I wouldn't forget them. Or, when someone on the team was trying to explain something and I cut her off and asked her to prepare a flow chart. She thought I was joking at first -- because it's one of those things the un-asshole would probably find humorous -- until I qualified it with, "I'm serious," and she noticed I wasn't smiling. Or, at the end of the meeting when I asked for a "roundtable" where each person on the team gives an update of the items on their radar this week. I mean, short of airplane controllers, who talks about "things on their radar"? Assholes like me.

It only gets worse. After the meeting, I asked members of the team to compare notes and pull together meeting minutes along with takeaways, actionable items, and agenda items to be discussed for the next meeting. Our team has never had meeting minutes before. I don't know how far up my ass I had to go to come up with such an asinine idea, but clearly, it was the asshole in me talking.

As ADub is on vacation for the next two weeks, I plan on compiling everyone's meeting notes so she and I can discuss the takeaways, actionables, and agenda items in preparation for her absence and the next team meeting. Short of Chinese food, I've not heard the word "takeaway" bandied about with such frequency. Last I remembered, back in the non-asshole days, the only thing I had to do for meetings was to show up. None of this preparing or compiling business that assholes do.

Yup, I've become one of them. I've become an asshole, and I don't know what to do about it.

Jeebus, save me from myself.

Cool beans


I was kind of bummed that India didn't buy into this project as much as everyone thought they would. This is cool. I love stuff like this.

The government of Libya reached an agreement with an American nonprofit group to provide inexpensive laptop computers to all of its 1.2 million schoolchildren, The New York Times reported in Wednesday's editions

One Laptop per Child, which has the support of the United Nations Development Program, aims to provide laptops to school-aged children worldwide at a cost of about $100 per computer. It has also reached tentative purchase agreements with Argentina, Brazil, Nigeria and Thailand.

There should really be a test for potential parents


This is inhumane.

I'm certain the father thought he was being a good parent to his son. What was the boy's mother doing? She should have stepped in and put a stop to this. This goes beyond parental responsibility -- it's everyone's job as people with consciences to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.

Piercy was arrested Wednesday on charges of aggravated child abuse in the torture, malicious punishment and unlawful caging of the boy.

The home of Randall Warren Piercy, 41, was like a prison that had cameras in almost every room, with the father monitoring the boy on television and computer screens, Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Lt. Annie Smith said.

During the past three years, the boy has not attended school, received medical attention or had contact with people outside his family, Smith said.

11 October 2006

rain rain rain

getting home always takes a little longer in the rain. and, not to sound like a total girl (which i occasionally am), but may have ruined camel claudia and shoes.

ah well, that's the way the ball bounces.

hmmm. cognac is close to the camel... although have been eyeing Be & D and a few others of late. Marj thinks it might be too big for me. (Lockamy, now is the time for you to weigh in.)

going to try and make a 5am run, since have been a fat ass lately. ask me tomorrow if i make it.

The plane belonged to a Yankee pitcher


A small plan just crashed into a building...?


He said what?

from B:

i told you about c, right? she told that guy that she wasn't going to have sex with him until he wasn't seeing other people (i guess he was seeing other people) and he broke up with her for it. that's SHITTY. guys are ASSHOLES.

Language, B! Language!

As to the rest of what you wrote: Um,wow...?

(C is B's old roommie from two roommates ago)

(if you look at how language is spelled enough times, it starts to look weird.)

10 October 2006

I'm been toying with the idea of buying some farmland. Not that I'd know what to do with it.

I have no desire to farm. I know next to nothing about farming. I wouldn't even know what to do if I owned a yard, much less over 10 acres.

Where would be a good place for a farm?
Know anyone I can talk to about the realities of owning a farm?

09 October 2006


Will there be / is there a backlash to the thin craze, or is the recent JPG show in Paris just him being ironic?

Madrid came down hard on the fashion world when a model died of heart failure. To strut its runways, models must now have a body mass index (BMI) of 18 or over. Most models don't make that cutoff. London, Paris and Milan haven't exactly jumped on Madrid's bandwagon.

My BMI measures 24.5, which is considered marginally overweight by many standards. In the world of fashion, I'd be considered outright obese. God forbid.

Finally, I'll be able to sleep at night again

Paris and Nicole are friends again.

How awesome is this?

The 2006 Nobel Prize for Economics goes to an American.

American Edmund S. Phelps won the 2006 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences on Monday for furthering the understanding of the trade-offs between inflation and its effects on unemployment.

In his research the 73-year-old Columbia University professor showed how low inflation today leads to expectations of low inflation in the future, thereby influencing future policy decision making by corporate and government leaders.

In its citation announcing the award, the [Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences] said that Phelps had advanced the understanding of the trade-offs between full employment, stable pricing and rapid growth, all of which are the central goals of any sound economic policy."

"He has emphasized that not only the issue of savings and capital formation but also the balance between inflation and unemployment are fundamentally issues about the distribution of welfare over time," the academy said. "Phelps' analyses have had a profound impact on economic theory as well as on macroeconomic policy."

Phelps also pioneered the analysis of the importance of human capital, or workers themselves, for the diffusion of new technology and growth in the business and corporate world, the academy said in its citation.

07 October 2006

Mongol boots season

When I was in Mongolia two summers ago, I picked up a pair of Mongolian boots that look similar to the ones pictures below except that the ones I own are more plain. The boots are made of a durable leather with felt insides. There's a felt socklike lining that goes with the boot.
Mongolians wear them for everything -- riding horses, protection from the harsh winter cold and the tall grasses of summer. They're extremely warm and comfortable. I think I like them because they're so different from what I'm used to seeing.

(Did you know that the Star Wars costumes were in part inspired by traditional Mongolian dress? Other links: Production Notes, Mongolian influences in fashion, Traditional Mongolian Garb in Star Wars)

There some crazy people wearing some crazy shit in this city. And now, there are people out there who think I'm one of those crazy people.

With colder temperatures just around the corner, I've broken out the boots. I wore them running my typical Saturday morning errands-- dry cleaner, laundry, grocery, bank, etc.

For the most part, the public was tolerant and ignored me. Some were curious. Some stared. Some pointed amusedly. And then, there were some who were less friendly and did the trifecta: stare, point and laugh. (As an aside, I found it interesting that the trifecta tend to be younger women -- college or high school age -- in groups of two or more. Can a sociologist get back to me on this?)

Good thing I'm crazy (obviously) and dress only to please myself (also obvious -- just ask B), or else I don't think I could have worn the boots.

My favorite response was the Frenchman. "Eh, nice boots," he says with a heavy accent as he walks up alongside me.

I flash my cheshire cat grin. (This is my I'm-being-polite-because-when-I-don't-know-what-to-do-that's-what-I-do-best-but-why-are-you-talking-to-me-do-I-know-you smile, which is not to be confused with my wow-you're-supercool-and-I-want-to-hear-what-you've-been-up-to smile.) "Thanks, they're from Mongolia." I'm on the phone with WW and am wondering why he's talking to me, since I don't know him.

"You are Mongolian, then?" Still on the phone, I shook my head no.

"Korean?" At this point, we're standing at an intersection waiting for the light to change. I'm still on the phone with WW. I shook my head no.


I put my hand over the mouthpiece, "No, but nice try." I flash my teeth again.

He shrugs and gives a gallic, "Well, at least I tried." The light changes. He crosses the street.

06 October 2006

Full fat milk

My team celebrated a birthday today with fat free milk and brownies. As one of the analysts reached for the milk, she announced that she had never had fat free milk before.

I responded, "What do you normally drink, full fat milk?"

There was a small pause, and then someone said, "You mean, you always drink whole milk?"

I realised that there's no such thing as full fat milk - I had made that name up in my head.

Then, someone in the back piped up, "Yeah, if that was what they called whole milk, milk would be spoiling on the shelves. It's not exactly the best marketing ploy..."

Yeah yeah yeah. I make up my own words. It comes from the third grade, when I suddenly realized that compound words were compounded for a reason. You know, words like playground -- ground children play on. Although I'm still scratching my head over toadstool. I've yet to see a toad use a stool.

05 October 2006


I'm sorry, I know it's not funny, but it kind of is! It's HI-larious!


The frustrations of travel

Normally, I don't think The Onion is that funny, but I kind of like this one.
Flustered Bush Misses Air Force One Flight

The Onion

Flustered Bush Misses Air Force One Flight

CAMP SPRINGS, MD—"They just lost their best customer," said the president, who added that he would start looking into other carriers.

Rough week

Boy, what a rough rough week it has been. I can't wait for it to be over.

04 October 2006

Twice a week

Twice a week, I go home by the same subway station. It happens to be a particularly busy one, so there's always a performer on the platform (one of the best things about living in this city is that it realizes that support for the arts is important). Some nights, it's a man with a chinese violin, other nights it's an opera singer, and on others it's a drummer. My personal favorite is the violinist.

There's something incredible about the way a good violinist plays. Perhaps it's because I used to play myself so I understand how difficult it is to make something sound so beautiful while making it look effortless. Whatever it is, whenever it's the violinist's night to play, I can't help myself, I stare. Mesmerized.

He's good. Really good. Every movement is elegant, spare and efficient -- just enough to get out the right vibrato or trill but nothing more. There's no waste of energy, no unnecessary flourishes, no unneeded space between the fingers from one note to another or too much air or bounce between the horsehair bow and sheep gut strings. Everything movement and note is consistent, yet filled with feeling that varies depending on the music being played.

Then, there's the violin music itself. I think all instruments have their own beauty (yes, even bagpipes), but next to the piano, the violin is the most versatile of strings. A wide range of music can come from the same tiny thing -- the latest barn stomping square dance to exotic hungarian folk music (think gypsy) to jazz to classics (think Bach, Stravinsky, Mozart, etc). Without violins, you're missing a story line.

In may ways, the violin reminds me of the challenges that draw me to windsurfing. The best windsurfers don't fight the wind. They intuitively know how to move with the wind and use it to their advantage. Great windsurfers have an ability for making the most difficult moves seem easy and effortless. Blink, and it's easy to miss the tiny tiny weight shift or hand movement that makes for an awesome trick.

As for myself, I have the finesse of a clunky elephant on a 2" x 4". Windsurfing is a pastime that forces me to slow down, to be and take in my surroundings -- the waves, the wind, the sun, my bearings. I know I'm doing something wrong when simply hoisting my sail becomes difficult, and I have to fight or struggle to make my move. I sail at my best when I remember not to overthink or force things into place, but to relax and go with it.

Anyway, it'll be another few weeks before I see my violin friend in the subway again, but I look forward to hearing his violin's story and putting my few dollars in his case.

Bringing back the concept of civic duty

I love stuff like this. The idea of giving back as opposed to self-interest, of meritocracy as opposed to who you know, making decisions based on long-term interst rather than the latest polls. If only all politics were like this. Seriously, Alexander Hamilton was on to something...

They did not have any government experience. They did not have any political connections.

When the three political novices were selected by Gov.
Jon S. Corzine earlier this year to fill some of New Jersey’s most important cabinet-level positions, what they did have was the experience of working at Goldman Sachs when Mr. Corzine was co-chairman of the investment firm in the 1990’s.

One, Gary D. Rose, is the architect of Mr. Corzine’s blueprint to expand the state’s business strategy, and a major participant in Mr. Corzine’s new initiative, announced last week, to make independent governmental authorities more accountable. Another, Barry L. Zubrow, played a crucial role last month in urging the Legislature to approve $3.25 billion for school construction projects. And during the budget stalemate this summer, it was Bradley I. Abelow who impressed lawmakers with his calm attempt to map out the state’s long-range fiscal problems.

“They aren’t necessarily Corzine people — they weren’t necessarily brought up by him at the firm — but Corzine has always sought out quality as opposed to who was in somebody’s tribe,” said Philip D. Murphy, a former partner at Goldman Sachs who is now finance chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

The three are investment bankers by training, as opposed to their boss’s roots as a bond trader, but they share his belief in the primacy of numbers, data analysis and long-term planning. They appear to be detail-oriented managers focused mostly on policy, not politics, and are accustomed to quick action.

“I think they’re going through the same thing that I went through four years ago,” said Andrew M. Alper, a former Goldman Sachs partner who was chosen in 2002 by another businessman-turned-politician, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, to be president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation. “In the private sector, A to B is more of a straight line, and people are motivated by economics, or economic rationale. In politics, people can often block something because they want something else, and that’s the kind of three-dimensional chess that takes a while to get used to.”

Legislators and lobbyists here say the former Goldman people are less partisan than typical appointees, and they often use words like “refreshing” and “open-minded” to describe them. State Senator William L. Gormley, a Republican from Atlantic County, said dealing with them on the budget and on the economic growth plan was akin to watching people prepare a business prospectus rather than a political document.

“They’re not like an insecure politician who’s failed at another career,” Mr. Gormley said. “They’re long-term thinkers, and they’re not driven by that week’s press release — that’s just not their style. It might be boring, but it’s substantive.”

For their part, the former Goldman officials say they have no intention of following the common practice of parlaying their positions into high-paying lobbying or government jobs after they leave the State House.

“This is my shot at it, and I hope that I help to contribute to something that’s bigger than me,” said Mr. Rose, who, like Mr. Corzine, is accepting a token salary of $1 a year. “It’s not like I’m going to go out into the private sector, and make money off of this. I’m going to disappear.

The indirect effects of global warming

Holy cow!


A bad storm in Alaska last October generated an ocean swell that broke apart a giant iceberg near Antarctica six days later, U.S. researchers reported on Monday.

The waves traveled 8,300 miles (13,500 km) to destroy the iceberg, said Douglas MacAyeal of the University of Chicago and Emile Okal at Northwestern University.

"One of the things we're debating in the world right now is whether global warming might increase the storminess in the oceans," MacAyeal said in a statement.

"The question we then pose is: Could global storminess have an influence on the Antarctic ice sheet that had never been thought of?"

03 October 2006

The Needless Markup Holiday Book is out

The annual Needless Markup Christmas Book is out. Among the gifts listed this year: $1.8m trips to space, $40,000 hybrid vehicles, $56k ATVs, membership at an exclusive club in Tuscany, your own backyard waterpark, and more trappings of consumption. Gotta love it.

Wait, it's not over yet!

I just got a call from building maintenance.

The man the phone wanted to know when someone could stop by to remove the arms on my chair.

Unless I am living in an alternate universe where I have an evil twin that has an equally evil chair, the arms on my chair have already been removed. My head hurts.

"Oh yeah?"

"The man who initially stopped by to action the ticket happened to walk by, and took the arms off because he had some free time."

The man said, "Ok, I'll close out the ticket."

Hopefully, this is it.

02 October 2006

Yemi and Shannon

Here's a picture of Yemi and Shannon that was taken on Labor Day. Because I'm a lazy bastard, Yemi and Shannon are only now getting this picture.

Yemi is a good friend from a past life in Washington DC. He and Shannon were passing through on Labor Day and did me the honor of stopping by for brunch.

Head-butting chairs

"You know, if you want your chair to slide under your desk, you could just lower your chair," said the man who had walked past my desk, put on the brakes and backed up so he was standing right before me.

This was a different person from the person who stopped by my desk a few days ago to agree with me that my chair arms were immobile before walking off.

I gave him the bewildered look of an idiot who's just taken a large bite out of a lemon because she was told it was chocolate, "Wha...?"

"You put in a work order a few days ago for the arms on your chair to be lowered so you could slide it under your desk. I was the person who got that work order. The arms on your chair are immobile, so I lowered the chair and slid it under your desk. If you want, I can show you how to lower your chair."

Oh, this was the person who stopped by while I was away from my desk.

I gave him the most pleasant look I could manage. Then, in the sweetest voice possible without resorting to sarcasm, I said, half-joking, "Well, I know how to lower my chair, but I have elbow problems. I need my chair at this height, so I was wondering if I could get the arms lowered or removed so I could slide my chair under my desk when the chair's at this height."

"Well, the arms don't move."

Again, I had to bite my tongue. "Well, do you think they come off?"

"If you want to slide your chair under your desk, they'll have to come off."

OK, we were several seconds in coversation behind each other, but at least we were on the same page. "Great! Can you take them off?"

"Well, I'm here for something else, but I guess I could take a few minutes and see if I could take the arms off."

"Awesome." Suddenly, this guy was my bestest friend ever.

He takes the chair away from my desk and calls someone else over. He takes out a power drill. At this point, I would like to point out that my bestest friend ever is quite unique, because I don't know too many people who carry power tools on their person at any given time. I guess that's why he's my bestest friend ever.

Together, the two guys brought the Aeron to the ground like gay steer wrestlers. (PLEASE NOTE: This is not a statement regarding my bestest friend ever's sexual preferences or even those of his friend. It's merely a observation that bringing an Aeron to its side looks much like gay steer wrestling because the only rodeo I've ever attended was the Gay Rodeo when it passed through Washington DC. As such, I cannot opine on how straight cowboys wrestle steer.)

After a brief tussle and some whirring of drill bits, my bestest friend ever stood up and announced, "Looks like someone's tried to do this before, because the screws have been stripped."

There were two thoughts and feelings that ran simultaneously through my mind: 1.) an absurd sense of relief that I wasn't the only schmuck who thought immobile arms on a chair that's adjustable in every other aspect was an asinine idea, and 2.) brief panic because if the screws were stripped, how was he going to remove the arms?

Thankfully, it came out like this, "So, what does this mean? Can you still take the arms off?"

"Yeah sure, but it'll take a second and be a bit noisy. Let me take it out to the hallway so I don't disrupt your work." What a considerate bestest friend ever. He returned a few minutes later, and before him trotted my docile, newly tamed chair. Armless.

I sat. I spun around. I bounced. I propped my feet up. It felt just right.

Score 0 to The Man.
To the short guy, 1 + a bestest friend ever.

Lockamy checks in

Lockamy is enjoying a successful semester back in college as a model student and a campus leader. Her sisters are doing great - one was just asked to be the president of her class, and the other is going to start drum lessons soon. I'm sure they'll all be just as great as Lockamy is at whatever they put their minds to.

Lockamy's comments:

1. Regarding the US Open pictures: You don't look fat in that picture! (you do look a little old though... like a chinese tourist or something)

Why yes, most people often confuse me for an 80 y.o. chinese tourist. It's very convenient, as I can often pretend I have no clue what's going on around me. Why, that doesn't happen to you?

2. Regarding my ticket problems: I love how you enter a blog about unfair/unlawful parking tickets and then you get a speeding ticket! (a typical move)

It is a little Seinfeld-esque, isn't it? Story of my life.

Go Ethanol!

Another example that change is best driven when it comes from the private sector. America needs more people like this to wean it off its dependence on oil.


Famed venture capitalist, Sun Microsystems co-founder and ethanol investor Vinod Khosla outlined four steps he said would help the country use more of the plant-derived fuel.

Specifically, he called for a government mandate that 70 percent of all cars sold in the U.S. be flex-fuel - which is having the ability to run on gas, ethanol or other alcohol-based fuels - by 2014, and that 10 percent of all major-branded gas stations in the U.S. sell E85, a fuel that contains 85 percent ethanol.

In related news, crude dropped below $63 today.

01 October 2006

Beer Garden, Queens

At the Bohemian Hall in Astoria.


WW and M

Z, Stu, the whole gang and more

Stu's back Stateside for a short period of time. He was able to join us for Z's surprise birthday celebration at Mamlouk.

Z getting down with the belly dancer

The food was great, but the best part of the night was seeing people I haven't seen in a while.

Birthday boy and girlfriend, B

SL, WW and KG - beautiful as always

KG and Stu - someone must have said something funny here

Stu and yours truly - two very shiny people

The Turks - you know who you are

The whole gang and then some

This line is cute

Tevrow + Chase