Friday, June 30, 2006

Real World

Today was a long and tough day, bookended by two difficult conversations.

In the morning, I confronted a dear friend about my perception of a possible conflict of interest (her: "Niniane, are you questioning my ethics????" Me: "Uh ... honestly, yes."). She gave me some additional info which satisfied my worries, but I walked away with a heavy stone in my heart. It had to be done, but surely now our bond is damaged!

Fortunately, in an impressive demonstration of classiness, she emailed me afterwards to say that she wants to protect the friendship.

Evening-time, I performed a social reminder. I won't say what it is, but it was equivalent in difficulty to telling your manager that she's had broccoli stuck in her teeth all day. Fortunately, again, extreme classiness.

I came home, sat on my couch as a worn-out shell, and spent the past hour flipping through my MTV Real World book.

Reading celebrity gossip and watching reality TV can be so relaxing. It's just delightful when the facades come down and you see the real-life arguments and anger and tenderness! The stuff that I wish I could see in my regular life, but cannot due to silly things like privacy and personal boundaries and window curtains.

Whenever I'm asked to fill out an online survey on my purchasing habits and periodicals, I wonder if my info is going to throw off the results. "We've discovered how to target to Google engineers! The preferred periodical turns out to be People magazine!"

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

my 27th

From Tom:

Happy Birthday!! Your brother sends his love from afar.

By `your brother`, I mean me. Unless, of course, I was really picked up out of a trashcan. Oh horrors!

Hee hee. Tom knows I like inside jokes, so he has jam-packed them. When I was 10 and he was 3, I liked to make fun that we found him as a baby in a trash can, hence the trashcan allusion. :(

The "Oh horrors!" is from when we played the video game Pikmin in 2002, and I accidentally killed a third of our pikmin population. Pikmin has a video game diary. That day's auto-generated entry read, "Oh horrors!", and Tom giggled and giggled in delight.

I have 3 birthday resolutions this year (in the same vein as New Year's Resolutions):

  1. Listen to people intently, without interrupting. Pay attention even when tempted by distracting thoughts.
  2. Be punctual.
  3. Sleep enough.

I decided this year not to have a big hullabaloo, and instead do a small, intimate, lovely dinner. We went to 71 Saint Peter:

Mingjing came over beforehand and brought me 3 presents. One of them was ... gummies!!

Thank you Mingjing! You know me so well!

Ode to Mingjing

O Mingjing, bringer of candies!
You've fulfilled my gummy dream.
You knew I wanted them so,
To share them with my team.

Away you drove to Cupertino,
To find the ichiban store.
At last I can slumber in peace,
for I yearn for gummies no more!

gg locking out of apartment complex

Last night I drove to the Kirkland apartment at 1am, ready to catch 5 hours of sleep before heading to the airport.

As I settled in, I realized that I needed my cell phone charger, so I walked down a flight of stairs and walked out of the apartment complex into the garage. I picked up the charger, and then turned with horror to realize that I left the keys in the apartment.

The apartment itself I left unlocked, but my car was in visitor parking, and I needed a key to get into the complex itself. A key that was sitting on the kitchen counter. I called upon my ingenuity. I rattled the doors. I called the apartment manager -- no response. I walked around and tried all the entrances into the complex.

Finally I managed to squeeze through the leftmost hole in the gate through which cars enter (to the left of the yellow-and-black stripes):

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

B of the B

Lunch at Cafe 150.

Max: Over the weekend I was hanging out with my friend Eric, who was a character artist on Tomb Raider 2.

Me: Oh, he'd get along great with George. (George is an engineer who enjoys ample-chested female game characters.)

Max: He didn't create the original Tomb Raider character. He just did improvements based off the original model.

Me: Okay. [pause] You know what, I'm going to write a game where the main character is a guy with a really huge bulge.

Max: [laughing while shaking his head]

Me: That's right. He'll run around in tight pants, and I'll make a level with a bunch of cold water pools that he has to avoid falling into.

Max: Will that appeal to the ladies?

Me: Sure, why not. I'll call it "Battle of the Bulge".

Monday, June 26, 2006


Yonatan's dogs are at doggy day care. While we were talking, the day care dog-sitter called to ask what type of dog food to feed them. Fancy names were bandied about -- California Whole Dog Food or some such.

My reaction was my usual surprise that someone would spend so much time and energy over a dog.

But then I remember how I feel about a pig. Two years ago I researched a half dozen web sites about owning a pig. Pigs are so cute! Their little snouts and ears, and they have no fur, and their little tail, and little hooves. They oink instead of bark. Pigs are the bomb.

I was concerned because pigs grow to be 75 to 150 pounds. I'm worried about having a pet that may weigh more than I do. But then I read this:

The weight of a pig is deceiving because they are so hard-bodied. A pig who measures 14" tall by 24" long and weighs 60 lbs. takes up very little space (about half the dimensions of an ottoman) and is a manageable size for a house pet and travel companion. Compare this size pig to a 100 lb. German Shepherd who is taller and longer than a coffee table, with an extension (the tail) that is capable of knocking everything off the coffee table.

This is very exciting to think about! I would have a warm cuddly pig to sleep with at night. This could be me:

Sunday, June 25, 2006

to Alipé

Godspeed on your recovery.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Those dirty-minded ACM-ers.

Yesterday the top US teams from the ACM International Programming Contest came to visit Google, and I gave a tech talk. I can't talk about my current project, so I chose to recycle an old tech talk on Desktop Search.

I kicked off with a demo, and took a chance by asking the audience to suggest query terms for me to perform against my own hard drive, to show that the demo is not canned.

"Dark fiber!"
"Top secret!"
"Google confidential!"

Silly ACM-ers.

They were a great audience, because they got all my jokes (yay!).

At one point I segued into the profanity filter for certain query situations. I was the one who coded this, and I talked about how the challenge is that some phrases are clearly questionable, though each individual word is not. For example, "girl-on-girl action".

This proved to be the most remembered part of the talk. During the Q & A, I got all sorts of questions on it:

"Can I turn off the profanity filter?"
"Can I adjust the words in the profanity filter?"
"How did you come up with the words in the profanity filter?"

Those ACM-ers with their dirty minds!

My gummies!!! A poem to you, my dear sweet gummies.

Dan worked out of Kirkland today, and I'm also in Kirkland for the weekend and then working here Monday. We met for dinner at the Great Wall shopping mall near the Seattle airport.

Walking through the mall to the restaurant, I saw a store selling ichiban gummy candies. "My team will like those!" I thought, and bought 20-30 in different flavors.

We ate dinner, drove off. Half an hour later, I suddenly turned to Dan with horror. "OH NO!!!" I shouted.

"What? What?" he said.

"I FORGOT MY GUMMIES in the restaurant!"

My chinese anti-food-wasting side kicked in with vigorous force, and I've been lamenting them since. I decided the only way to get over them is to write a poem.

Ode to Gummies

Oh gummies, my gummies,
Your luminiscence once filled my heart.
Lychee, peach, melon, and grape.
How it pains me to see us apart!

You laid in a white plastic bag.
I took you out to dine.
I placed you on the cloth chair,
Right beside mine.

I sat and chatted and as time passed,
Gradually you slipped from my mind.
When I left, I forgot you!!!!
Oh, how could I be so unkind?

Now I lament thee! I miss thee!
Your smooth skin and sweet taste.
Oh gummies! My gummies!
What a terrible and tragic waste!

Friday, June 23, 2006

self removal

I took down my most recent post, because one reader made a point that writing about being considerate is not very considerate. It is a good point that I agree with.

So you could say that I filled out the blog removal form on myself.

However, taking down a post removes associated comments, and I would like to preserve the comments. Here they are for posterity:

"I feel sorry for the poor fellow who'd be interested in someone so self-absorbed."

"From the pictures on the blog, the attraction must be something other than physical. Is there such a thing as an ego-fetish?"

"Crazy self-limitation. One day you'll wake up having missed a great opportunity. Or several. "

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Writing group.

JTR: I did NaNoWriMo (writing a novel in 30 days) again last year. The first year I wrote the daily suggested amount until Thanksgiving. The second year, until Nov 15. The third year, I lasted 5 days. Last year ...

Me: [bracing myself]

JTR: Last year I finished.

Me: Wow! Congrats!

JTR: Yeah. I copied the "WINNER" banner onto my web page.

Me: So let's meet again with our writing club. I haven't touched my novel in 4 months, and one of my New Year's Resolutions is to finish a draft.

JTR: Okay.

Me: I like our writing club because I can always count on you for honesty. Like the time you told me, "You know how there were redeeming points about my story? Yeah, I can't say the same about your story."

JTR: [laughing] Ah, yeah.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Tips on interviewing.

This weekend, I wrote up this article on "Preparing for a Software Engineer Interview".


I originally used "Hot Cross Buns" as the violin analogy instead of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", but it seems people don't know what that is. Don't they teach that in music class any more?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

dangers of reading ahead

The first assessment that my leadership class analyzed is our skill-o-scope, a 360 evaluation of our skills as seen by our selves, boss, and peers.

I'm very enthusiastic about this material. So, as the instructor presented slides about the metrics, how to read the form, blah blah, I eagerly skipped ahead in the notes. I turned a few pages and saw the profile of strengths and development needs.

I skimmed down to the "development needs as assessed by others" section and was flabbergasted by the fifth item. "Public speaking: speak compellingly in front of an audience."

What??? I thought to myself. I just CAN'T BELIEVE my coworkers think I'm poor at public speaking! That's one of the things that I know I can do well!

Then I looked at the section of "development needs as assessed by self" and was even more shocked that public speaking was again listed, at #4.

I MYSELF selected that as a development need?? I sat in puzzlement.

Then the instructor announced that the paper in our brochure is the average across 1800 previous respondents, and that they would now hand out booklets with our individual results.

Public speaking was not in there as a development need.

Amusing celebrity dialogue.

Celebrities can be so funny.

Angela Bassett: [to Posh Spice] Why exactly do they call you posh?

Posh Spice: Well, why exactly do they call you beautiful?

Bill Gates: "With great wealth comes great responsibility. Many years ago I made it clear that almost all my wealth would be returned to society."

Slashdot: "Who knew Bill Gates is also Spiderman?"

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Another Google china blog article.

D (Google China Blog's editor): Niniane, we miss your writing style. Can you write another article for us? After your last article encouraging female engineers, we got a lot of emails from readers specifically directed at you!

Me: [happily] Oh yeah, from female engineers who felt encouraged?

D: No. From guys who want your email address.

Me: gg.


I spent the "effort of nine oxen and two tigers" (chinese saying) and translated into chinese my article How to Write a Killer Resume, for Software Engineers.

It's the current article on Google China blog: Link.

Japan, little differences, part 2

1. Japanese people are petite.

This is the max capacity on our hotel elevator:

11 people, 750 kgs. Each person (male or female) is expected to weigh 150 pounds or less. In American it'd be more like 250 pounds.

2. Japanese girls like to make their legs look longer. Our Japanese tour guide, Cindy:

You'll often see high school girls in uniforms, with their skirts hitched up to here [motions halfway up her thigh]. Why do they do this? It's not because they're exhibitionist. It's because Japanese girls have short legs. Some people call them Turnip Legs. So if they hitch up the skirt, and wear tall platform shoes, then the legs look really long.

3. Japan still expects the woman to cook.

Tom took us to a very lovely restaurant, where we ordered 10 small dishes. The sukiyaki needed to be stirred.

Tom: [to our mom] Mom, can you stir this meat?

Mom: I'm taking a picture.

Tom: It's starting to burn.

Mom: [didn't hear, absentmindedly starts eating food]

Tom finally crankily stirs the meat.

After we leave the restaurant,

Tom: In Japan, the women are supposed to cook! If it doesn't fall to my mom, then it should go to my sister. Did you see how all the waitresses were staring at me?

One of my dreams has come true

When I was 7, my parents let me roam free during the day. I climbed in and out of neighbors' yards, happily trespassing. The two most exciting categories of discoveries at the time were:

1. a hole in a neighbor's chain link fence. I would immediately try to squeeze through it. The smaller the hole, the happier I was when I surmounted the challenge and entered the neighbor's exciting backyard!

2. mounds of objects heaped in the yard. A pile of unused tires provided me hours of happy entertainment. Hunks of rusty metal rods piled willy-nilly was a cherished landmark.

I want to give this flexibility to my own children, but I'll likely live in a cultured dangerous high-tech city (like Mountain View), as opposed to safe Salt Lake City and Las Cruces, New Mexico where I spent my pre-teen years.

All my adult life, I've been waiting for someone to invent the technology that would allow me to track my kids. I would gladly implant a RFID chip in their necks if I could then let them roam free, knowing that I could find them if I needed to. [Editor's note: Omar, I'm so glad you convinced me to re-enable comments on the same night I discuss implanting my kids with RFID chips.]

And now, tonight, Verizon has made my dream come true:

Verizon Launches Child Locator Service
June 12, 2006, 1:49 PM

Verizon on Monday introduced a new service aimed at parents who wish to keep track of where their children are through their cell phones. Additionally, the service will give children a way to easily contact their parents.

The parent would be able to see where the phone is located from a map on the Verizon Web site.

Monday, June 12, 2006


Tonight half my bathroom floor went missing.

My 2 bathroom granite countertops were installed shortly before we left for Japan, to my great delight.

And then ...

Both countertops developed wide cracks around the sink area.

The company sent a more experienced contractor Nat, who told us that the first contractor Dugsy put insufficient plywood underneath them. Nat would have to replace them.

While demolishing the downstairs countertop, Nat didn't cover my new marble tile floor with a protective cloth. Shards of demolished granite fell onto the floor. He then stepped on them, gouging little holes in 4 of my marble tiles.

While taking out the 4 to replace, Nat's assistant broke 4 more tiles and accidentally took out one that wasn't gouged.

The previous floor was a pattern of tiles that I carefully assembled to look artistic. Tomorrow they bring 20 tiles, and I'll pick 9 to put onto the floor.

At this rate, tomorrow I will return to find an impeccable countertop and marble floor surrounded by charred wooden posts where my walls used to be.


“A stench of despair hangs over Guantanamo,” said Mark Denbeaux, a law professor at Seton Hall University in New Jersey. ... “Everyone is shutting down and quitting.”

Denbeaux said he was frightened by the depression he saw in one of the men when he visited the jail on June 2. His client, Mohammed Abdul Rahman, “is trying to kill himself” by participating in a hunger strike and was being fed by force, he said.

“He is normally a gentle, quiet, shy person,” Denbeaux said late Saturday. “He sat there in a subdued state that was almost inert. He was colossally depressed.”


It's Azkaban in our midst. Where's Dumbledore to lead us into the light? Hillary, are you our Dumbledore?

Asian alcohol intolerance

I'm going to stop drinking for the time being.

Friday night I had 1.5 drinks at a pub near my new San Fran crash pad. It was going to be just a single red tropical cocktail, but an hour later Kevin's friend asked me, "Another round?" I said, "Not for me, thanks," which he took to mean yes. He came back with another drink in the same shape glass, same pineapple garnish, but bright orange instead.

I didn't want it to go to waste, so I drank half of it.

Saturday night I had a sangria at dinner with Omar & Neha & Matthias.

Apparently the atrocity of drinking on two consecutive days was too much for my weak Asian alcohol-processing liver. It doesn't matter that I had only 1 or 1.5 drinks each night. My body has let me know that this kind of rampant behavior will NOT BE TOLERATED.

Today (Sunday), I woke up and laid unmoving in bed (or rather, my sleeping bag on the floor of my crash pad) for 30 minutes. Summoning the strength to get up to take a shower was a Herculean effort.

My payment for drinking isn't headaches or vomiting or weeping -- it's to become a hunk of unmoving iron for the next day.

I was riding the Muni on my way back to Mountain View this afternoon, and I caught a glimpse of my reflection against the window when we entered a tunnel. The dark circles under my eyes jumped out, to a degree that terrified the vain side of me.

Further alarming the vain part is the fact that I felt very bloated all day. Of course, I googled as to whether drinking makes you fat. Half the web pages say definitely! It increases cortisol which directs fat to your belly! The other half say absolutely not, and in fact makes you lose weight, because it increase metabolic rate and also decreases consumption of sugar.

The second one is probably not right, as I have the metabolic rate of a slug right now. (Sorry to all slugs.)

In any case, I'm going to avoid this situation for a while. It may lead to some interesting questioning, in modern American partying-equals-drinking society.

My weekend in photos

Asian Art Museum statuette of a Thai multi-armed Buddhist figure getting it on with a multi-armed Buddhist goddess in his lap (he's kissing her in this photo):

An awful, awful literary reading in the Mission. How many times can you get away with describing people as "blobs of bio-mass" before it stops being cute? My answer: Zero. The rest of the audience: apparently at least 20.

I did walk out with a bounce in my step and a smile on my cheek, because if that caliber of crap can get published, then I need not worry over my own writing dreams of getting my novel published!

Interesting art on the wall of a bar. 'Tis the weekend for seeing art.

House Party!

Haight Street Fair. I clutched a decaf chocolate cappucino and my Dell laptop, standing in high heels amongst a sea of Haight-Ashbury grunge and tie-dye. Oh how I stood out, and oh how the times have changed:

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Japan: the little differences

Vincent: It's the little differences. I mean they got the same shit over there that we got here, but it's just - it's just there it's a little different.
Jules: Examples?
Vincent: Alright, well you can walk into a movie theater in Amsterdam and buy a beer. And I don't mean just like in no paper cup, I'm talking about a glass of beer. And in Paris, you can buy a beer at McDonald's. And you know what they call a, uh, a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in Paris?
Jules: They don't call it a Quarter Pounder with Cheese?
Vincent: Nah, man, they got the metric system, they wouldn't know what the fuck a Quarter Pounder is.
Jules: What do they call it?
Vincent: They call it a "Royale with Cheese."

A Few Little Differences from Japan

1. Japanese women are obsessed with making their eyes look bigger. This has spawned an industry of mascara, fake eyelashes, eyeliner.

Apparently, Koreans share this -- look at their celebrities' before and post surgery pics.

A Japanese advertisement -- look at the model's eyelashes:

Here's where you can go to get fake eyelashes just like hers: the shu uemura lash bar!

2. Our tour guide Cindy told us about her 3 years working for a Japanese company. In Japan, you're expected to stay at work late. Even if you're done with your work, you sit at your desk, and look at the other people. You pretend to be busy, or you can even put your head on your desk and take a nap, as long as you don't leave. Eventually, late at night, you all go out in your suits, drinking.

This doesn't change after you have kids. Your kids fend for themselves while you work until 10pm and then drink until 1am. Then you're considered an upstanding citizen who works hard to support their family.

3. Japanese restaurants like to put fake food in front to show what you would get inside:

Our tour book had a section of town that specializes in making fake food, but that was the afternoon we ran out of money.

Coworker food humor, part 2

[Joby and Alipé return from ping pong. Joby brings back ice cream for everyone, even though it's 11pm and the cafe has been closed for 2 hours.]

Niniane: Where did you get this ice cream from?

Joby: I walked a hundred miles! ... From an ant's perspective.

Niniane: Why should the units be any different to an ant?

Alipé: A mile is measured in feet, Niniane. Ants have [holding up thumb and forefinger very close together] very little feet.

Coworker food humor

[Discussing unusual foods that people eat.]

Alipé: I read that in Singapore they eat live monkeys' brains! They have a special table with a hole cut in the middle...

Odin: I'm sure that's an urban myth.

Alipé: No Odin, it's on the internet, so it must be true. Apparently it tastes like warm foam.

Odin: You certainly know a lot about this! Have you eaten monkey brains yourself?

Alipé: No Odin, I'm a vegetarian.

Odin: Well those monkeys are practically vegetables!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

cuteness from Japan

Monkey eating a Lay's potato chip:

Then the monkey checks out the # of calories. "There's HOW MUCH saturated fat in 1 serving???"

Two little Japanese schoolgirls in the subway who loudly shouted Mandarin at us between giggles, "Ni hao! Xie xie!":

At the Tokyo shrine, visitors purchased wooden placards on which they write their wishes. Example ones are, "Health for myself and my husband", "Peace and happiness for my family and the world." This is a little different:

Little tiny girl in perfectly matching dress, braids, high socks, small round shoes, carrying a straw hat. This one takes the cake:

Way to go, ABC News

ABC News article with a big typo right in the headline:
"Queen Latifah Annouces Women's Confidence Day" By BRITTNEY JOHNSON

"I am someone with or without this man. I am someone with or without this job, with or without these tight jeans. I am a strong woman. I can survive," Latifah said while explaining the importance of confidence in the lives of women.

Good message with an unfortunate delivery. Or perhaps the underlying message is, "I am someone with or without this spellchecker."

Sunday, June 04, 2006

perhaps love

I have a new Favorite Movie of All Time.

During the flight from Tokyo back to the US, I chanced upon the film "Perhaps Love" (如果*爱). It tells of a love triangle between an actress & actor who are ex-lovers, and the director who the actress is now dating.

When the movie was over, I sat in shock for an hour and a half in my airplane seat, thinking. Then I watched it again from beginning to end.

The music is riveting. The acting is spellbinding. It brings such joy to be in the hands of a true master.

The only 美中不足 (imperfection) is that the girl is so petite and babyfaced that without makeup, she looks like she's 13 years old. It was extremely disturbing to watch a scene of the hot, hot actor 金城武 (aka Takeshi Kaneshiro):

in an underwater kissing scene with what looked to be a 13-year-old girl:

Later, in one of the most poignant scenes in the movie, he convinces her to return together to their old haunts. She's wearing short hair and no makeup. He wraps his arms around her from behind, and narration plays about his long 10-year wait for her.

They both tear up. She turns and kisses him.

I would've been bawling right there in seat 62A, except that I was too busy RECOILING FROM WHAT LOOKS TO BE A GROWN MAN FRENCHING A THIRTEEN-YEAR-OLD BOY.

Regardless, this movie is my new favorite movie. The weirdly gorgeous hairpieces! The pining for a lost love until you despise them! The subtle dialogue! The beauty!!!!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

that's some support

Walking down a shop-lined street in Kyoto.

Mom: [to me, cheerfully] The thing that makes me happiest in life is you and Tom. I support all of your dreams. If there is anything you feel passionate about doing, I will support you.

Me: Oh really? I actually just had a new desire around 4pm today. I was eating at that unagi shop when we split apart for the afternoon, and I was reflecting on how my life is too heavily weighted toward selfish things -- improving my knowledge and career, buying clothes and real estate. Even raising children in a few years is a selfish goal, because it's still about my small sphere. I want to start volunteering for a cause that I believe in.

Mom: I support you.

Me: Great! I gave some thought to the causes I identify with. Like maybe a big-sister little-sister program, or helping a shelter for battered women... In the end, I thought that since I'm really in favor of abortion, so in the end, I might donate time helping a non-profit lobby for abortion rights.

Mom: No, I think you should pick a different cause. Volunteering is fine, but don't pick abortion.

Me: Why not?

Mom: Because the anti-abortion people have a good point. They think it's ending a life, and ... even if they make it illegal, they'll still allow it in rare cases to save the life of a mother.

Me: [picking jaw off Kyoto sidewalk] What? How can you be a pro-lifer? You had 2 abortions!

Tom: [to me] Well, looks like you have your first challenger.

Mom: I only had one abortion. We'd just gotten to the States at the time, and your dad said we didn't have enough money. If I kept listening to him, we wouldn't even have your brother now!

Tom: Hmmm. When I think about it that way, Niniane, I'm against abortion too. [grinning] Can't help you with this one.

Me: [grumbling]

Tom: [to our mother] I have a dream in life too. I want to buy a Japanese World Cup soccer T-shirt, even though it's really expensive at 25 dollars.

Mom: [quickly] I support you.

Tom: Awesome! [to me] Thanks for making that easy for me.

Friday, June 02, 2006


TOKYO (Reuters) - A would-be Japanese bank robber asked staff how he should carry out the crime before meekly obeying a request to leave and then accidentally stabbing himself in the leg with a knife he was carrying.


50% of my Japanese vocabulary is wrong

At 5:30pm, we purchased octopus balls (not the balls of the octopus as I originally thought, but rather dough balls stuffed with octopus tentacle) and iced cocoa, and sat down to eat them.

Tom: [after seeing me pay for the cocoa] Niniane, never say "arigato" again. That's extremely rude.

Me: What? Isn't that the proper way to say "thank you"?

Tom: No, that's "arigato gozaimasu". "Arigato" is only used by a superior to a subordinate, or when you know someone extremely well. It's very rude to use it for strangers.

Me: [very sadly] Tom ... I've already used it 500 times this past week.

Tom: Well, service people won't show any unhappiness over it. Even if you cursed them as dogs, they wouldn't say anything back, because they treat the customer as God in Japan.

Me: But did I inadvertently hurt them in their hearts?

Tom: Most likely. They probably went home and cursed you.


Thursday, June 01, 2006

Makeover list

Several friends have said to me over the past couple of years, "I would like to get a makeover to look less geeky and more hot." I point them toward a magazine rack of Glamour and GQ, but in typical engineer fashion, they say, "Those are too time-consuming. Niniane, you must know what I should do. Please give me a list of steps to follow, in prioritized order."

Tonight I'm sitting at this ancient Pentium 4 in my central Kyoto hotel lobby, and I'm a little bummed after a long analytical conversation with Tom. So, to fight the melancholy, I'm going to indulge my list-making desires. I'm sure you, dear gentle reader, already know everything on the list, but perhaps it will bring you some amusement.

For Women
In order of importance:

  1. Get a haircut. This is the most important step. Do not go to Supercuts. Go to a gay hairdresser who will wrinkle his eyebrows at your current hair, and then attack it with verve and with scissors. Look at this random web pic:

    If you are in SF, go to Scottony ($35). If you are in Seattle, go to Gene Juarez and ask for a $30 stylist (a $70 stylist will just make your head into an artistic creation that you can't maintain). If you are in a different city, you're on your own.

  2. Buy some form-fitting clothes. Stop buying size-12 clothes at Ross and then altering them to fit your size-4 body. Stop sewing your own clothes. Reconcile yourself with the fact that a hot skirt may cost you 80 dollars, which is 65 dollars more than a non-hot skirt.

    If you are really skinny, go to bebe. If you are average-sized, Express. Otherwise, Ann Taylor. (The law of symmetry does not apply here -- if you shop at Ann Taylor, do not send me an irate email about how I'm calling you fat.)

  3. Get your eyebrows waxed. Rarely will people notice explicitly -- you won't walk into work and have everyone's jaws drop at your newly coiffed eyebrows. But subconsciously people will gravitate toward your unquantifiable magnetism.

  4. If you wear glasses, switch to contacts or sexy glasses.

  5. If you have naturally perfect features like half of my friends, then you're done. Otherwise, find the most upscale mall around and call their Nordstrom MAC counter (the posher malls have better makeup artists). They'll do a little something like this for you:

    and you will be so astounded when you see yourself in the mirror that you will buy $90 worth of eye shadow and lipstick.

Those are the most important steps! If you do this, you will be so hot! People will be unable to resist you! When you come to thank me for this list, I will be unable to resist you! Be warned!

For Men

Same list, except skip the eyebrow waxing. If you have a ponytail, cut it off unless you have fine straight pantene-commercial hair.

For clothing, only wear T-shirts if you have a really hot body. Guys with great bodies should wear nothing but T-shirts, to flaunt how their ripped chest and abs make a free Nvidia T-shirt look hot. Other guys can wear something interesting, like cargo pants or collared shirts or striped sweaters (please not all at once).

more anti-Japan

The longer I hang out with Chinese people visiting Japan, the more I find out about anti-Japan sentiment in China happening right now.

Tall Guy from Taiwan: You know Vicky Zhao, who played the sassy princess in the mini-series "还珠格格"?

Me: I vaguely remember seeing her on TV.

TG: Yeah, she did a modeling shoot where she wrapped a Japanese flag around herself and wore it on the runway. People were so pissed off that they threw ... [looks down at me eating ramen] rocks ... at her.

The next day, walking in a market.

Dad: By the way, it wasn't rocks that people threw. It was manure.

Me: Well, maybe she wore the flag unintentionally and wasn't trying to make a statement.

Dad: Of course it was unintentional! If it was intentional, she'd probably be killed by someone by now!

Me: ...

Dad: Also, Korea withdrew from the theatres all movies that star her.