What You Say?!?

October 31, 2004 12:52 am

HOLY SHIT:



That was my last student loan. My education is no longer burning a hole in my pocket. I can't even begin to describe the relief, the pride, and the joy. They have yet to mail me written confirmation, but that is one of the most beautiful screenshots I have ever seen.



October 26, 2004 8:03 am

On NJN last night, they showed excerpts from the 10th Annual Verbier Festival, which included a special "Piano Extravaganza." The folks at NJN wrote an interesting essay describing the event. All I know is eight Steinways, sixteen hands, and eleven pieces, some specially arranged for multiple pianists, makes for a pretty unique concert. It was really neat to see, and now I'm curious about getting myself the DVD, or at least a recording somewhere.



October 25, 2004 8:30 am

Every now and then, I get this incredibly girly urge to go clothes shopping. Unlike entertainment and electronics, which I buy in many small doses, my approach to clothes is to refrain for a long time, then splurge like mad. During these opulent displays of consumer whoreness, I tend to acquire a mountain of items. A wise man once told me, if I like something and don't buy it, I'll end up regretting it. This is especially true for me, because finding clothes my size is quite the challenge. Instead of finding a style, then searching for the size, I often have to find my size, then judge the style. So when I discover something that fits me and is to my taste, it's a shame to not buy. Plus, it's always easier to return clothing than to find the exact size and style again.

And so, after pillaging the mall with my weapons of credit destruction, I ended up with:

  • 5 shirts
  • 1 tank top
  • 1 fancy satin slip
  • 1 pair of feathered wings (for Halloween)
  • 3 pairs of socks (finally!)
  • 1 pair of trousers (for work)
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 1 corset
  • 3 sweaters
  • 2 dresses
  • 1 free cashmere hat
  • 1 free bottle of perfume
  • 1 free x-mas ornament
All in all, it was quite the day at the mall. I learned a few things too. Cashmere comes from goats, not sheep. From now on, I will think of it as devil fabric. Also, flirting with the cute sales staff works, especially in getting a dressing room. I confirmed my theory that the mall is much better early in the morning, before all the annoying teenagers drift in. Waltzing in wearing an old sweatshirt, ratty jeans, and your boyfriend's giant plaid flannel disarms both mall employees and fellow shoppers alike. This was especially apparent at stores like Express, where the majority of customers are uptight, primping waifs with gallons of makeup and clothes that restrict proper breathing. Why bother making the effort on a Sunday morning, just for the mall? It boggles the mind, but it sure was amusing to stand next to one and paw through the same sweaters as her. And finally, I learned that there's a fair bit of free stuff and good deals out there; you just need some time and effort.

In the wake of my $283 contribution to the economy, there's only one thing left to do: put on some clothes!



October 21, 2004 5:30 pm

I figure it's about time I throw my hat into the politics ring.

I don't think either candidate has the conviction or charisma to pull off major changes. Listening to the debates and speeches, I get a sense of stoic resignation. Each candidate and their supporters never stray from the 2 or 3 points they are tasked to make. Neither candidate has offered any answers or ideas, only repetitive mantras that don't mean a fucking thing in reality. One thing I've noticed that is common to both men, is that they promise things left and right, with no explanation of HOW those promises will be achieved, and more importantly, WHERE THE HELL IS THE MONEY COMING FROM??? I don't believe that changing the figurehead changes anything else. No matter who's in charge, legislation is clunky, the general populace are idiots, and life moves on. The candidates are kidding themselves if they think their policies will effectively produce results. Anyone who runs for U.S. president needs to understand that economics is what runs this country. If public policy strengthens the economy, then everything else will fall into place. And neither one of them has addressed how exactly their administration would bolster the economy. Would you even care about Iraq, privacy, national security, abortion, gay rights, or nuclear proliferation if you didn't believe you could afford to live comfortably? What good is having a strong military, if the citizens it protects can't eat? If you can't even own a home, why would you care about government agents coming in without a warrant? The basis of all American strength is in commerce and the allocation of funds. To that end, I haven't heard anything from either candidate that could revolutionize the most expensive and dire parts of our budget (*ahem* health care *ahem* social security *ahem*) or inspire confidence in future buying power. A balance needs to be struck between the bulwark of corporations (after all, who gives us our paychecks?) and the rights of consumers and employees. And I'm not convinced either man running is aware such a balance is needed, much less speaking to its creation.

I guess my problem is that no solutions are ever presented during a presidential campaign. Both candidates spend more time attacking each other's pasts than actually discussing ideas. And that pisses me off. For once, I'd like an incumbent that doesn't simply reiterate the great deeds of the current administration. For once, I'd like a challenger to actually lay out, step-by-step, how they would re-engineer a flawed major governmental process. For once, I'd like our candidates to concentrate on fixing mistakes, rather than pointing fingers. For once, I'd like the press to strike fear into the hearts of politicians, not because they expose "scandals," but because they ask hard questions. For once, I want journalism to become a terrifying trial by truth through which all presidential hopefuls must survive. For once, I'd like candidates to cite sources for all the figures they throw out. For once, I'd like campaign money to be spent on informative pamphlets laying out proposals and policies, rather than listing bullet points of facts taken out of context. For once, I'd like to see Americans voting for someone because of their action plan for the next 4 years, instead of basing decisions on a few buzz words. For once, but so far, it doesn't seem like this will be it.

Don't get me wrong, I still plan to vote. I wouldn't throw away a right that so much has been sacrificed to win. But I'm deeply dissatisfied with the state of politics in the U.S., from my hands-on experience with local government (don't even get me started on that...) to the federal circus. Government has become too complex for the people it represents to comprehend. Candidates know this, and play to it well. Anyone with a shred of integrity, creativity, and reason either can't afford to get into politics (another huge flaw with our system) or finds that those qualities are not what voters want. And that is probably the saddest thing of all.



October 17, 2004 7:33 pm

America...FUCK YEAH!

That was the perfect way to start a weekend that included a rainy BBQ, freshmen, visitors from out-of-state, blaring music, gin and tonic, and fond reminiscing with friends. And now, back to making dumplings with Victor :)



October 16, 2004 11:50 am

I totally meant to post this earlier, but I got distracted. Here's another fantastic publication from The Century Foundation. I'm a huge fan of this organization and I really appreciate their informational, objective approach to civic, social, and global issues. This particular article describes in a nonpartisan manner the Basics of the Patriot Act (opens in PDF). I highly recommend this one, as it not only summarizes the 300+ page bill succinctly and clearly, but it also presents arguments from both defenders and attackers.



October 11, 2004 10:00 pm

A lot of people ask if I still draw these days. I do, but definitely not as much as I wish. Most of my drawing is now confined to doodles during meetings. In fact, the wall outside my office is plastered with sketches produced during heated corporate discussions. One might think this highly unprofessional and even rude behavior, but ever since I can remember, I've had an intense need to spew art from my fingertips during times of aural concentration. It's similar to how some people code better with background music playing. My listening skills actually focus more sharply if I'm drawing. I pay more attention to the task at hand because the part of my mind that would normally be distracted is already occupied. This was true in class too - I was always sketching during lecture. Sometimes these "distraction" sketches turned out pretty neat. I spent some time scanning in a few tonight, and thought I would share:

















So there you have it: the idle works of a not-so-idle hand. Scanning these has inspired me to start organizing my other sketches. Hopefully I can update the Drawing section of my site soon!



October 9, 2004 8:45 pm

From a corporate memo sent by our COO:

"Fu-zu Jen has been promoted to the position of Director of Information Technology, still reporting to Doug. She will handle the day to day direction of all IT requests and will be the person to whom you should direct your technology requirements, questions and concerns."

Yes, boys and girls, I'm clawing my way up the corporate ladder. To tell the truth, I'm going to continue doing what I've been doing all along; the promotion just makes it official and adds a few more duties I was planning to take over in the near future anyways. The most significant change (besides the whopping 18% pay raise!) is that the programmers I was managing are now directly reporting to me. I get to conduct performance reviews, determine their annual bonus, provide damage control, and fight for their career advancement. Seeing as how they are amazing people that I have the utmost respect and loyalty for, I can't imagine this being a difficult job. The programmers are the reason why the business runs - I would do anything for them, whether I was their boss or not.

One of the more surprising reactions I got from co-workers was a sense that suddenly I was above everyday activities. People teased me that as a "Director" I had more important things to worry about. But when it comes down to it, I still add printers to users' computers, I still bang my head against 5 page-long SQL scripts, and I still spent Friday night hopping between remote desktop terminals to troubleshoot the Exchange server.

And really, I don't mind. I could never tear myself away from the IT part of IT. But it sure is nice to be recognized for all the hard work and care.



October 5, 2004 2:48 pm

I saw a blurb in The Economist referencing this article, and simply could not resist:

Klingons for Kerry
From Willamette Weekly Online
BY ZACH DUNDAS & WW EDITORIAL STAFF

EXCLUSIVE: Straw-poll shocker! Fierce warrior race strongly backs Democrat.

Even as John Kerry struggles to establish national-security credentials nationally, an exclusive WW straw poll shows his campaign dominating one skeptical, warlike demographic: Klingons.

The poll, conducted when the DVD release of the Star Trek fan documentary Trekkies 2 attracted Portland's Klingon community to Tower Records on Southeast 102nd Avenue, may spell trouble for President George W. Bush.

The incumbent has staked his campaign on the war on terror. But those who speak the language of the Trek warrior race -- known to disdain dishonor, or quvHa'ghach -- seem alienated by Iraq and other issues.

According to the poll of eight local Klingons, a whopping 75 percent support the Democratic nominee.

Two Klingons polled -- or 25 percent -- said they planned to write in Satan.

Bush scored an abysmal zero percent in the poll.

"A good war is based on honor, not deception," says K'tok (Earth name: Clyde Lewis), a 40-year-old Klingon from Lair Hill. "The first warrior, President Bush, deceived us all with this war."

Portland Klingon speakers are increasingly influential. Last year, Multnomah County's mental-health services opened a search for a Klingon interpreter to work with speakers of the language.* Though the Klingons polled all appeared to be registered voters, they emulate an unfamiliar political system.

"On the home world, if there had been a contested election between Gore and Bush, the honorable thing would be for Gore to kill Bush," explained Khraanik (Earth name: Jason Lewis), a 38-year-old from Southeast Portland. "Or the other way around. And then ascend to the head of the High Council."

It's too early for Kerry to chill the ceremonial bloodwine, but Portland Klingons are clearly warming to the cerebral Massachusetts Democrat.

"Kerry has shown his prowess," says 33-year-old Neqha (Earth name: Eric King) of Tigard. "He saved his fellow warrior under the gun, and has been commended and awarded medals."

Neither the Bush nor Kerry campaigns were immediately available for comment on the poll results.

-- Dominic Luxford with Zach Dundas

[* No, we're not making this up.]

First of all, THERE'S A TREKKIES 2 ?!?!?! Holy shit, yes, there is. What the hell?

Second, this confirms my belief that The Economist is the best news magazine evar. Totally worth the $129. But of course, my current subscription cost me nothing, since Vic knows how to treat his woman right ;)

Third and last, the Willamette Weekly Online rocks not only for this article, but for the other entertaining political pieces on their site. Poke around a bit, it's pretty amusing.



October 3, 2004 12:55 am

Digging through my hd this weekend, I found some old poems worth posting. Thus, I have updated my poetry section, in the 1999 ~ 2001 list.



October 1, 2004 12:34 pm

I've been itching to post but just haven't found the time. At least twice a day, I think of something I want to share on this site, then life gets in the way. But speaking of life, last weekend was a reunion of old friends and life never seems more wonderful than when such events occur. People I hadn't seen in days, weeks, months, even years were gathered at our apt. It felt good that through time and distance, we still all crack up at the same moments in Futurama.

Another thing that felt good was playing Carcassonne, my initiation into the world of German strategy board games. I've never been a huge fan of strategy board games in general, mainly because I've only been exposed to battlefield ones like Risk or Diplomacy, and I find those rather boring. Carcassonne, however, is interesting and doesn't have an abundance of rules, making it pretty easy to pick up. This breed of board game sits much better with me. I like the tile-based idea: rather than being given a world map you need to navigate through, you build up the world during gameplay. I think this design is much more elegant and fun. And it seems the focus of these games isn't on obeying the rules, but on how to use them to your advantage.

This weekend, more friends will be gathering at a house-warming party in NYC, and that's the way life should be - moving from one gathering of friends to another.



See archived entries for September 2004.
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