Thursday, December 30, 2010


I am in Luxembourg with my parents and brother. I'm reading a bunch of Kindle books on the plane, train, at night in the hotel.

One thing about the Kindle is very annoying. When you press on the directional knob, if your finger twitches at all (so that the motion is not straight down), your Kindle will delete the book instead of opening it. I've accidentally removed two books in the past day. There is no way to retrieve them until I return to the US, because the Amazon wireless doesn't extend to Europe for my device.

Anyhow, I just finished "Kitchen Confidential". Stephen King said once that people love reading about other people's jobs. It's so true. This entire book is an autobiographical account of a chef's career. My brother commented that he previously thought being a line cook would be fun, until he read this book. It takes a lot of strength to lift 100-pound cuts of meat or masses of dough. Also you need to be time-sensitive so that the sauce is created at just the same time as the meat and side dishes, so that nothing gets cold. Plus everyone's food needs to arrive at once, so it's a mastermind synchronization operation. On top of that, the chef needs to be creative at combining ingredients to taste good, plus he needs to be a strong people manager who can soothe egos, recruit cooks, and fire delinquents.

Next I'm going to read "Complications" about how surgeons are fallible humans, who start out scared to press down the scalpel on actual skin. The book opens with a frightening story about the author as a hospital resident, struggling to perform a heart operation for the first time. He forgets important instruments, his hand slips when he's putting a wire into the patient's artery, and he keeps poking the clavicle when he means to slip the tube under it. I was flinching every couple of paragraphs.

The top Facebook games also center around taking up a profession: Restaurant City, Farmville. Someone should write Surgeon Room as a game.

If you know of any other books that eloquently speak about an interesting profession, send me the recommendation!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

quips from my brother

Me: "So I have this friend Victoria..."

Tom: [smiling] "Does she have a secret?"

We are in a hotel in Luxembourg with an ambilight television. There is a light source behind the TV which emits light to match what is on the screen.

Tom: "The resolution on this TV is terrible! Why isn't it all HD?"

Me: "Maybe there are some HD channels that we haven't found yet."

Tom: "If I were this hotel manager, the TV would be automatically tuned to HD as soon as it turns on. Plus the ambilight is using RGB interpolation instead of LAB 1976."

[various questions about color interpolation removed]

Tom: "This TV is trying to distract me from its crappy resolution by literally using smoke and mirrors."

Me: "My friend Alco does a type of martial art that's supposed to be very deadly."

Tom: "What is it?"

Me: "Krav something."

Tom: "Krav maga? That's the deadliest type of martial arts!"

Me: "Yes, he's a black belt or something."

Tom: "That's the hand-to-hand combat used by the Israeli army."

Me: "Also, he can dismantle and re-assemble a gun very quickly."

Tom: "He's probably more deadly than his gun!"

Me: O_o

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

poem about boredom

A snippet from a poem referenced by my friend Lillers.

We did invent boredom,
a fruitful state.
It hid the size of our desires.
We were spared many murders,
many religions
because we could say, "I am bored."
A kind of clarity
came when we said it
and we could go to Paris or the movies,
give useful parties, master languages,
rather than sink our teeth in our lover's throat
and shake till things felt right again.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


My CEO likes to say to me, "You have a warped sense of time. You think a lot of time has passed, when it's only been five minutes."

It is true. I had not realized before, but I am very impatient! There are times when I've thought, "Why hasn't so-and-so replied to my email?!" and I search for the thread to write a demanding followup, only to find that I had only sent my email the night before.

The state of feeling impatient is uncomfortable. I am in this state of discomfort multiple times per week, where I'm waiting impatiently. I would like to lessen this feeling.

I heard from one startup founder that his investor will send followup emails every hour until he gets an answer. That seems a bit too pushy, but it is one solution.

Or perhaps I can try some type of meditation, where I imagine myself as a cactus in a timeless desert, or focus on breathing, or some such.

If you are impatient, how do you deal with this? If you are patient, what is your emotional reaction to people like me who are impatient? Do we seem inexplicable?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Hollywood separations

Scarlett Johanssen and Ryan Reynolds are getting divorced. I'm sure most of you have no idea who these celebrities are. But I am saddened by this. There are so many Hollywood splits recently.

Sunday, December 05, 2010


I wish I could wear a hat every day. But it would be weird if everyone else is in jeans and I'm wearing a hat. It's stifling that it's only really acceptable to wear a huge hat one day out of the year.

What can I do to create occasions where it's acceptable to wear a huge Victorian-style hat?

ways of the wor[l]d

Mitch: "I met these two girls last Saturday, and they're so aggressive!"

Me: "Why, what did they do?"

Mitch: "I texted one of them a few days later, and she answered within five minutes with an excited reply."

Me: "Wait, but you texted her first. How is that aggressive?"

Mitch: "I dunno, it just was."

Me: "Is she attractive?"

Mitch: "Not really."

Me: "I see. If she were really attractive, then the same behavior wouldn't be aggressive, right?"

Mitch: "Oh, I choose the wording based on the situation. In that case, I would say, 'Wow, this girl is so responsive! It's awesome!'"