Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tom's 21st

Tom turned 21 last Wednesday. It was also the day that my relative was discharged from the hospital, so we had a double-celebration at home.

Chinese takeout at my house, and beer.

Chocolate marble cake.

On Sunday, I took Tom to afternoon tea as another birthday celebration. You might think that I forced this upon him (akin to if he took me to a Counterstrike competition for my birthday), but he actually enjoyed it.

In fact, Tom picked the teahouse. He chose this one in Fremont, because they carry tea hats which the patrons can wear:

I daresay we matched the hats to our outfits reasonably well.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

vera-ly it is

While running errands with Tom, I bought a bottle of aloe vera for Tristan's sunburned ankles. Later the three of us ate dinner at Amarin. Midway through, I remembered that I left the aloe in my car.

Me: "I need to give the aloe vera to Tristan after dinner. Everyone remember this. Associate it with getting up from our chairs, please. As we rise to leave, remember the aloe. Remember the aloe."

Tom: "Is that like, 'Remember the Alamo'?"

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

rice rockets

My brother bought a car yesterday, from a good friend of mine.

It's a 9-year-old Honda Accord, which is by definition a better car than mine. Since I have a 9-year-old Honda Civic. A pic of my car, from when I was robbed a few years ago:

Perhaps we will get our cars serviced together this weekend.

Tom: "I'm going to put a big ol' racing stripe along the side!"

Friday, April 18, 2008

then she made me do thirty push-ups

Talking to Megan (my personal trainer) during my training session today.

Me: [while doing bicep raises] "I got invited to a black-and-white event."

Megan: "Oooh! What are you going to wear?"

Me: "There's a simple black dress I've had for a while."

Megan: [waving hand dismissively] "Hey, let's go shopping at Christian Dior!"

Me: "I don't know..."

Megan: "The butterfly cut is hot right now. Don't you want a dress that's in vogue?"

Me: "No."

Megan: "Why not?"

Me: "Anyway, I'm sure my date won't care what dress I wear."

Megan: "So what? You'll appreciate it, right? Look, I've gone on dates just to wear certain dresses. I was like, 'I'm dating my dress right now, and I love him!""

Me: "Your dress is a him? Shouldn't it be female?"

Megan: "When it's on top of me, it's a guy."

Me: "Fair enough."

Megan: [demonstrating a push-up followed by a jump] "Do ten of these."

Me: [starting push-up] "Anyway, you've seen my fashion sense. We've gone out, and I was dressed fine."

Megan: [observing my push-up] "Fine for a regular -- Niniane! Why are you wearing two differently colored socks?"

Me: "Okay, sometimes you gotta work with what you have. In the gym bag."

Megan: "You're wearing one piggy sock and one black sock, and you say your fashion sense is fine?"

Me: "My fashion sense knew that mismatched socks are wrong! I just didn't have a choice!"

Megan: "I am definitely taking you shopping. You need me in your life."

Me: "I'm not sure about this."

Megan: "Relax, we'll get something classic, and elegant. I'm not going to make you wear a freakin' banana on your head."

Me: "Good, because a banana is neither black nor white."

Megan: [clenching arms] "I'm really trying not to smack you right now."

Me: "Unless it's Banana Republic."

ha ha h -- wait a minute, you're insulting me too

niniane: it's coming up close on your last day...
Domino: yeah
Domino: if I were to stay, I might join the XXX team.
Domino: their manager is good
niniane: so i hear
Domino: and trustworthy
niniane: yeah, that's important in a manager. And not always easy to find
Domino: why would good and trustworthy people become managers?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

it was good

So, I'm a shell of the human being I was before. There is a lot to do, for work and for my family.

Anyway, one nice thing from last week was dinner at Wenarto's house. Wenarto cooked us capon:

A capon is a cockerel (a male chicken) whose reproductive organs were removed at a young age. Typically, the castration is performed when the chicken is between 6 and 20 weeks old.

Supposedly the castration makes the chicken fatter. And happier, if memory serves me correctly. Because it doesn't have to stress over chasing the hens around?

Friday, April 11, 2008

basic instructions, the comic strip

Is everyone else already aware of the comic strip "Basic Instructions"? I might be lagging behind the crowd again, like with Dinosaur Comics and xkcd.

Anyway, I discovered it recently, and I'm now a huge fan.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

of sour grapes and godiva chocolates

Much appreciation to all the people who left supportive comments about my family situation. I am especially grateful to Nina, who wrote:

People who maintain a reservoir of Zen calm while a relative is in the ICU probably have something wrong with them anyway.

This sour-grapes mentality is precisely what I needed. Thank you Nina!

Lately I keep remembering an incident from a few years ago. It was a small act of kindness, but I've been thinking of it almost daily.

The incident also involved a relative in a hospital. The illness and person in question were different, but there were similar harrowing qualities of waiting in a hospital room.

After an exhausting 24 hours in the ER, my dad and I stopped at a shopping mall on the way home. I went to a Godiva chocolate store to buy a gift basket for the hospital workers.

The saleswoman came over, as I stood before a shelf with small and large baskets. She asked if she could help, and what kind of basket I was looking for.

"I want one with variety," I said. "It's for doctors and nurses in an ER. Something they can grab quickly as they're walking by."

She paused, then walked to a different shelf behind the register. "You probably want one with both solids and cremes..."

We discussed whether to get one giant box or two medium-sized boxes. I decided on two, for variety. I paid. She wrapped up the basket in plastic with a bow, whle she watched me write the card. My dad stood off to the side, stepping in only once with tips for the card.

We finished the transaction. As I turned to go, the saleswoman reached into the display case and pulled out a chocolate truffle, then another. "For you and your dad," she said, "on the house."

It really stayed with me, this touch of kindness in an otherwise purely professional transaction. The saleswoman probably forgot about it years ago, but I doubt I ever will.

I hope that I showed enough appreciation at the time, to encourage her to do it again for others in the future.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

i know how i want to be, but i can't seem to do it

I'm having a difficult time.

A relative is in the hospital, and my mother is staying with me indefinitely while she takes care of him. For a little while, we went together to the hospital. Now she takes the caltrain every morning to the hospital (and back to my townhouse in the evening), while I go to work.

Seeing my relative in the hospital is painful, but this post is not about that.

I keep losing my patience with my mother, over silly things. She turns off her cell phone for hours at a time, and I worry when I can't reach her. When I ask her for the condition of our relative, she tells me a ten-minute chronological tale of the day ("I got up at 7am, cooked some congee, and walked to the caltrain station..."). I have to listen to the entire story to distill it to a single sentence of how my relative is faring. My mother bemoans her lack of time, but refuses to accept any of my offers (such as renting her a car, or giving her cab money).

We're going through a cycle where I speak impatiently to her, and then I feel guilty. I try to call her to make amends, and her phone is off for five hours, and we return to the start of the cycle.

Our whole family is under a lot of stress, so the minor tiffs are not too surprising. But, ideally I would have a reservoir of Zen calm.

Maybe I will try to take more deep breaths, and meditate in the morning and evening.

I know this post is crappily written, without any beginning or ending, nor interesting dialogue or detail. Consider it a window into the past, of how every post on my blog was three years ago.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

my favorite April Fool's joke

People have been sending out April Fool's emails all day. But nothing can measure up to my all-time favorite, from Peter Norvig in 2004:

In related news, Google today announced the soft launch of a new chain of restaurants called TG-TF-IDF. (We wanted to use the catchier "Thank God its Term Frequency - Inverse Document Frequency", but that domain was taken by a cybersquatter.)

Whereas traditional restaurants feature hard-to-use menu systems, the TG-TF-IDF restaurants will allocate a gigacalorie of food to each diner. Diners then enter keyword ingredients and are instantly presented with a list of meals. "If a user has a problem with food, so do we," said Sergey Brin, Google co-founder and president of technology, in a statement. The service will be free, but will feature targeted ads printed on the right hand side of the food.

"And while developing TG-TF-IDF was a bit more complicated than we anticipated, we're pleased to be able to offer it to the diner who asked for it."

Google's system was designed by one of its engineers as a "20 percent" project - the scheme which gives Google employees one day a week in which to work on projects that interest them, the company said.

In contrast to the 1Gcal of free food offered by TG-TF-IDF, McDonalds offers a maximum meal size of 1190 cal for $4.99.