Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Bizarro Family

I've been suffering from this stupid cold that everyone and their mom seems to have. Over the weekend, I decided to take a walk to make myself feel better and ended up going to McDonald's. I got my food as usual and noticed a very attractive asian lady standing in front of me. She looked like she was in highschool, but I'm guessing she was maybe... 30 tops. I was idly admiring her waiting for my turn in line when an old white guy stepped in front of me. At first I was taken aback because I thought he'd just blatently cut in front of me. Then I realized that he was with the woman. Hmmm, interesting.

After they placed their order, I thought no more of them and got my own food, sat down, and began to eat. Half way through my meal, I noticed that the asian girl (no offense to women, I call her a girl because that's what she looked like -- a girl, like really young) was sitting with the old white guy and his two young white kids. Huh?! I spent the rest of my meal trying to figure out her relation with them -- she seriously looked like the white daughter's older sister.

As if that wasn't weird enough, the man was listening to his iPod at the table while the two kids try to steal McDonald's Monopoly pieces from each other and she just sat there, staring into space. The table was completely silent. I kept thinking to myself, "This is sooo freaking weird." I was so fascinated at this point that I'd completely stopped eating and was just staring at them.

Then, after at least 15 minutes of iPod, monopoly, and staring, the asian girl leans over and puts her head on the man's shoulder. AAGHH!! Meanwhile, the kids look like they don't even know she exists, and the guy still has his earphones in. Finally, five minutes later, the girl whispers something and the guy manages to pop out one ear phone to listen to her. Then when she's done, he puts it back.

That was definitely the most fun I've had people watching in a very long time -- a much needed break because life's been getting a bit stressful as of late. Lots of friends in need and work being off the hook. There's only so much of me... feel like I'm being ripped to shreds. Anyhow, I wish you all the best in finding your bizarro peole of the day.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

I love Halloween

A brief update on my otherwise normal life.

Went to Thunderhill again (track) and had a real blast!!! until I spun off the track, into the dirt, and my right-rear wheel found the GINORMOUS hole in the otherwise smooth Grassy Fields of Happiness. The whole time I was spinning I was thinking, "don't flip don't flip don't flip". Things felt pretty smooth until WHAAAM. It wasn't until I drove back onto the track that I noticed something was very very wrong with my car. Unfortunately, I'd pretzeled my right rear suspension. Towing it back all 180 miles was a feat in itself (go AAA!) and I have Nick to thank for helping me out with the towing and lending me his oh-so-fun POS Galant to drive while my car was in the shop.

Anyhow, my car's finally back, though still dusty and laden with fauna from the offroading experience. I'm glad to have it back -- I really missed it, despite my new-found appreciation of the POS Galant.

In other news, I fell off my horse, Payback, last week. It wasn't as bad as last time, but I'm definitely scraped up and in minor pain all the time. Could be worse I guess, but he's tried to kill me so many times and has utterly failed. I'm disappointed to have him get the better of me this time.

Finally, it's almost Halloween and I've busted out all the Halloween candles and decorations. The only thing I'm missing is a neat little CD with Fall evening sounds, like crickets, breeze, etc since I live in this silly thing called a city and can't just go outside for that stuff. I have no idea why I came to love this holiday so much. There's just something about the Fall night that's so mystical with glowing Jack-o-lanterns and walking around in the dark. You know how much I like glowing things and walking around at night. I guess Halloween really is one of the more imaginitive holidays -- complete with a tinge of the occult. Anyhow, I wish you all a very merry Trick-or-Treat!

Tuesday, September 6, 2005


I've been wanting to change two aspects of my otherwise perfect car for a long time: massive understeer (typical of lawyer designed cars) and the clutch delay valve, which limited clutch engagement speed thus making it very hard to figure out where the clutch was in relation to the clutch pedal. This weekend, I finally got off my ass and did my first mods! Oh MAN do I love my car even more now. To give you an idea of how excited I am, here's an email I just sent my car friends Nick and Lukito:

Yay! With Lukito's help (and his ramps, wrenches, towels, jacket, cardboard box, vice grip, bleeder, and pliers), I finally got that frickin CDV out of my car!!! It drives like normal now!!! My upshifts are so much smoother and my downshifts are even better. Before, when i let up on the clutch too quickly (like from a stop light or something), it felt like my clutch would hesitate and then all of a sudden slap the flywheel. Turns out that's exactly what was happening. Now that it follows my foot, it smoothly engages. And I don't have to play "guess where the engagement point is" game anymore! Okay sorry, you can tell from how excited I am how bad it was driving w/ that thing on. Thanks for the help and the equipment!

Also the alignment is starting to show it's true colors, especially on freeway onramps and medium speed curves. The slack i mentioned is gone (maybe the tires just needed a few miles to adjust to the new alignment). In it's place is more turn and less scrub. It feels more like it's on rails. Not revolutionary, but definitely an incremental improvement from before. Can't wait to pwn you all on the track!!!


Friday, September 2, 2005

New Orleans Destroyed

This is the headline I was waiting for after visiting the city during Christmas. Just like The Big One is always on the mind of a Southern Californian at some level, the final Category 5 hurricane that would drown the city was on the mind of those I came in touch with in New Orleans. They were spared that, but I guess a Category 4 was good enough.

After I'd gotten back and was enchanted by the mystical sinking city and did a little research on it. I read the city was plannning to better protect itself from a large hurricane with higher sea walls and whatnot. I wished at the time that they would stop planning and start doing. I liked New Orleans and I hated the idea that it might one day disappear into the ocean.

Now that that day has finally come. Though the city remains, I'm heartbroken to think that all those beautiful places I visited less than a year ago are now either under water, or filled with refugees and rotting bodies. When I see names like River Walk and other areas I strolled along, the difference between my sunny mental image and the current war zone-like conditions is beyond my comprehension. I imagine the floor of the convention center, no different than any ordinary floor I've ever seen, now stained with feces and bodies. It's like when someone says there are over one thousand of something. My mind doesn't truly understand that. It just knows it's bigger than ten and that ten dead people is too many already. The best I can do is go through my gallery and view the photos I took of New Orleans one by one and imagine it submerged or destroyed.

What the most disheartening news of all isn't the extent of the distruction, the appalling conditions, or the thousands of deaths. It's the fact that when there is so much destruction and suffering, when people need each other the most, there are individuals who are roaming the city, raping, pillaging, burning, and shooting at each other and even hospitals. Every close friend I have can tell you of my obsession with post-apocolyptic stories, for example, the movie 28 Days Later. Basically, anything about the end of the world -- not existance, but of normal civilization. I am so obsessed with them because they reflect my worst fear about humans. I completely believe that humans, when reduced to the most basic level, are merely over-glorified animals and will behave accordingly. I WANT PEOPLE TO SEE THESE STORIES in the desperate yet futile hope that at least some can recognize this in themselves and, when the time comes such as now, fight and rise above it. My hope is all but destoryed to see that, just like in every story about the end of the world, it's not the aliens, zombies, hurricanes, or earthquakes that are the true enemy, it's humans, ourselves.

The stories coming out from New Orleans, the REAL stories, disgust me. I am ashamed. Those who are shooting, raping, destroying, desserve either to be shot on sight or to live a very long life full of pain, agony, and suffering. They deserve the worst this world has to offer. Those of you who believe in a benevolent God or believe humans are somehow superior, take a long hard and cold look. Then look in the mirror and smile. See those sharp canines in your mouth? They're meant to kill and tear flesh from your victims.

That said, for the vast majority of you still in New Orleans who are decent and just trying to survive, I send my best wishes. I know expressing my sorrow, indignation, and well-wishing won't do you any good, but I hope my donation does. Hopefully, with enough time and effort, New Orleans can be reborn as a new and equally beautiful city as the one I left not so long ago and hopefully your lives can be mended just as well.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Track Day!

Every time people find out that I own a BMW, they inevitably ask with a smirk, “So is it really the Ultimate Driving Machine?” My response is always, “Err... dunno. I like it a lot?” Whoa, how is it that I don’t know if my own car is the Ultimate Driving Machine? Well, it’s not something I can find out just by driving to and from work, or even on a twisty mountain road even. There’s just no way to push my car or me to the limit on public roads and still be safe. Then came my very first Track Day and now I can safely say that my car is, in fact, the Ultimate Driving Machine.

My coworkers had been bugging me about going to the track even before I bought my bimmer. I wrote it off as something I’d never have the car, time, or money for. But the seed was planted and I when I chose my car, I made sure it could hold its own if I were to ever drive it in a ... spirited fashion.

A year passed and I began learning the ins and outs of my car. My morning and evening commute quickly became the best part of my day, the highlight of which is what I like to call the NVIDIA Autocross. It’s basically an off ramp, on ramp, exit, and obstacle-filled parking lot all in super-quick succession. After negotiating the course every morning at fun speeds, I like to look around in the car and in the back seat and note how “successful” the morning drive was. If all items in the car have swapped places, or better yet, ended up wedged in strange configurations against the doors, I know I’ve done my job well.

After living the “The best part of waking up, is squealing tires ... in your cup?” mantra for a while, I began to have an inkling of just what my car could really do. We started organizing scenic drives up by Skyline Blvd which runs the ridge line and and is as gorgeous as it is fun to drive. Finally, I’d had just about as much fun as I could driving safely and as legally as possible on public roads filled with other cars, people, curbs, dogs, children, hikers, bikers, horses, rocks, potholes, etc. Things were getting boring. The obvious solution? Go to a NON-public road, somewhere meant for driving and safe. Thunderhill Race Park was it. As my friend, Nick, so kindly demonstrated with visual aides, it was a driver-oriented track with very few walls and lots of “grassy fields of happiness” should I accidentally remove myself from the track. This was in contrast to places like Laguna Seca which have “concrete walls of death” everywhere to protect spectators.

I was like a 12 year old with A.D.D. on crack the week leading up to Track Day. I was so excited I couldn’t think straight. Every time I tried working on something (work, what’s that?), my mind would drift and eventually the sound of engines and tires would fill my head. I signed up with NCRC (Northern California Racing Club) who were incredibly helpful. They assigned a mentor, Dean, whose sole purpose was to answer as many stupid questions as I could throw at him.

Finally, on Friday, Nick, Jason, and I drove up to Willows, CA and checked into our room. We talked cars for a while and general driving techniques before heading to bed. The next day started bright and early. We met up with our fourth, Lukito and drove off to the track. Lukito had only been to the track once and was going to be in my running group (we both would have instructors riding with us all day). He was driving his Galant VR4 a.k.a. “POS Galant” which is this vintage 1991 4WD car with 10% remaining paint, crappy tires, and ridiculous amounts of horse power courtesy of his “manly turbo”. Nick (who got me into this mess) was beginner-intermediate and drove his Subaru STi. It’s this 4WD silver thing with a ginormous wing in the back and huge hood scoop in the front. We like to call it Factory Rice. He also has ridiculous amounts of horsepower and very sticky tires and loves initial D way too much. Jason, the veteran of our group used to track his M3, but recently upgraded (or downgraded depending on your point of view) to a Lotus Elise which has a teensy weensy engine but drives like a go-kart.

Lukito and I began the day with a quick classroom lesson on what the flags meant, when to go, when to stop, etc. while the big boys and girls with their GT3s, GTAs, Porsches, etc. went to play around on the track. Then it was my turn. I met my instructor, Jay, who is a moderator on bimmerforums.com, a site that I frequent. We hopped in my car and before I knew it, I was in the pit lane waiting to be waved onto the track.

The first moment on the track was one of the strangest experiences ever. The track looked like a street and smelled like a street, but didn’t go anywhere and i knew i was meant to drive ALL OVER it — the left side, right side, even the berms (curb-like things) and I was meant to do it FAST. I had no previous experience to tell me how fast or slow I should be going, or where to be on the track when. It wasn’t long before I heard the tell-tale screeching of my own tires and ended up OFF the track.

After being scolded like a little child by the track attendant, I pulled into the paddock and had a chat with my instructor. He decided to give me a ride in his E36 M3 race car to show me the line and speed to take through the track. Despite his going “slowly” for educational reasons, I still had the ride of my life. Driving on the track really is like having your personal roller coaster.

Then came my second shot at driving the track. I was very apprehensive about going off the track again, so I decided to go really slowly, ignore the cars stacked up behind me (who I let pass at the straights), and concentrate on getting the line down. I was still missing every other apex and finding myself in strange places on the track, but overall, things were much improved over the first session. I even managed to stay on the paved part the whole time!

I decided to take a break after that and caught a ride in Nick’s STi just to see how a more seasoned driver in a faster car took the course. To sum up the ride, I’d call it the grossest abuse of four wheel drive I’d ever seen (yon WD!!!1). We’d go blazing into the turns with all four tires screaming and Nick would skid the rear end around so that it was pointed at the turn exit. Then instead of gently sling-shotting out of the turn, he’d slam his foot down and claw his way out full throttle. The most exciting part was when we finally overtook a brand-new Lamborghini that we’d been following for a few laps. We started out behind the it in the pit lane and Nick asked me if I thought he could pass it. I said no, probably not. A few laps later after watching the Lamborghini take several atrocious lines, I looked over at Nick and said, “Hey, you know... I think you can take this guy.” Nick just smiled. Then the next lap, we blew his doors off. Nick was done smiling and was busy whooping and laughing. As luck would have it, the track photographer just happened to capture the pass, Nick’s victory over the Lamborghini was immortalized.

Throughout lunch, we discussed our experiences up until then. Nick and Jason were having a blast, but I was slightly disappointed. My second run was good and consistent, but excruciatingly slow. I wanted to go faster, dammit. I was wasting the track. I resolved to fix the situation and psyched myself up, trying to shake off jitters from my earlier excursion into the dirt. I knew I could go so much faster, still be safe, and still stay on the track. I kept telling myself to stop driving like a sissy and to start driving more like I do in Gran Turismo 4. No more of this driving miss daisy stuff!

On my third run, I made it happen. When I had enough available traction between the turns, my right foot was all the way down, my mind screaming for speed and my car obeying. Maintaining the line was my first priority and it held, but I definitely felt the rush of speed, especially coming out of the turns, down the straights, and the good hard braking before the turns. It finally felt like I was doing some high performance driving!

My attitude adjustment was rewarded when I began passing some slower cars. I actually passed someone else instead of the other way around! At the end of the session, I came barreling onto the straight and who did I see in front of me? None other than my fellow newbie Lukito! The track event wasn’t a race, but it sure felt good to know I was no longer the slowest person in the group.

By the end of the day, I was completely overheated (it was 100 degrees all day long), exhausted, and my brain felt really really fuzzy, like it was made out of cotton. I sat in some more rides and drove two more sessions. When it was over, we packed all our stuff up, took some pictures, and removed the tape from our cars. We had some dinner and consumed gallons of iced tea, had some good laughs about the day, discussed our successes and failures, celebrated Nick’s victory of the day, and then headed home, just four guys, our cars, and the sunset.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Sea Island, GA -- Part 2

The first day, we woke up nice and late, got some lunch at the beach club and drove up to Savannah. I didn't have any concept of what it was supposed to be like, so I wasn't able to fully appreciate it. Judging by the murmurs of my more well read friends, however, I'd say it was everything they hoped it could be. My favorite part was the square parks situated in the center of what you would call a round-about which were square shaped. They were nice and shady and contained various monuments to commemorate a miscellany of historical figures, one of which was a large rock honoring Indian Chief Tomo-Chi-Chi.

After a fine dinner, we headed back home to Sea Island and found ourselves in the middle of a sprawling thunderstorm. The rain was warm and steady as was the thunder and lightning. We got back into the house, poured ourselves some drinks, and lined up the rocking chairs on the back porch. Then we sat, listening to the raindrops fall on the house and on the plants outside. I remember thinking how different the world sounded in the rain, so many small noises and drips and shuffles. Every 20 or 30 seconds, a streak of lightning would shoot within the clouds and light up the entire marsh before us. In an instant, we would go from seeing 10 feet of backyard lawn and trees to miles of water and lush grass. Every so often, the clouds would send a streak of white electricity into the marsh and light up the world with a loud clap of thunder. All the while, we were dry and sheltered, rocking slowly back and forth on our chairs, warm with the slight tropical breeze, enjoying our drinks, the view, and the good company. I don't think I've ever been so content in years. It's little wonder that it became the defining moment of our trip for everyone -- an experience we wouldn't soon forget.

The next day, we went out for a morning horseback ride along the beach. You can guess that this was my idea. Some get post cards wherever they travel, some buy souvenirs, I ride horses. I was planning to go myself, but everyone seemed to like the idea so everyone signed on, including Will who's love for horses knows no bounds (he despises animals). As soon as we arrived, it was immediately apparent which horse belonged to Will -- the gigantic Clydesdale. When all 6'7" of him was finally mounted on his gigantic steed, I swear the only thing he was missing was a battle axe and plate armor. The ride itself was okay. I was hoping to canter along the beach, but the group was a bit too large and novice to really handle even a trot, so I ended up listening one of the guide's riding stories. Still, even walking along the beach was fun and relaxing. Kate seemed to enjoy it. Hawk, unfortunately, is as allergic to horses as I am. Seeing him after the ride, I understood what I must have looked like after my first ride, all puffy-eyed and breaking out into hives. The fact that I came out of that wanting to ride more make me wonder if I'm crazy.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Sea Island, GA -- Part 1

A few months ago, my roommate Will hatched a crazy idea to use up his parents' accrued Southwest frequent flier miles. He suggested that we all take a vacation together to his vacation house in Sea Island, Georgia. We' d all heard a lot about his place at Sea Island -- he always seemed to be going there for some reason or another. He spent almost every Thanksgiving there and all his family reunions were there. I began imagining what it would be like there. The name made it sound like small island off the coast of Georgia with a single house on top with kids running around outside by the crashing waves. I admittedly let my imagination run a bit wild on that one, but it was fun to think about nonetheless.

To Will's pleasure, we roundly praised the idea and began to make plans. Will and I had always joked about how we were swapped at birth and grew up in the wrong states, me among small asian women and he among tall blonde ones. This was our chance to prove our theory correct. After several months of schedule conflicts and aborted attempts, Will, Bill, Kate, Hawk, and I finally departed for the deep south on June 30th, just in time for July 4th weekend.

The flight there was a bit more eventful than we'd hoped. After an hour's delay, we boarded the plane and go under way. A couple hours into the flight, we heard the captain come onto the PA. At first, I figured he was just giving his usual greeting and providing flight information that I think only I care about, like altitude, air temperature, wind speed, etc. But instead, I heard, "There is no cause for alarm." Stop right there, I thought. That is NOT the right way to begin any sentence. Scenes from Airplane flashed through my mind. "There is a problem with the flight control system. We will be landing in Phoenix, Arizona where we will determine if we need to switch aircraft." He then went on to explain that the rudder trim was busted (and compensating in the wrong way to boot) -- a minor problem, but flying in a broken airplane is just a bad idea no matter how benign the problem.

Then we began the fastest decent I'd ever seen a commercial airliner do. Round and round we went as we corkscrewed down towards Phoenix. Finally, the airport came into view and even though I had faith that there really was no cause for alarm, I decided that if we crashed and burned now, I was happy with my life up until now and that dying would be less preferable, but ultimately alright. We made our final approach and landed safely on the airstrip. Far off, I could see at least six bright yellow emergency vehicles with their lights flashing, waiting for us on the tarmac. No cause for alarm, eh?

After stealing another flight's airplane, we were again on our way towards Nashville, and then Jacksonville Florida. By the time we made it to Sea Island, it was 2am and we were all exhausted from the entire day of traveling. We knew all of it was worth it, however, when we pulled up to Will's house and were stunned. In my Californian mind, it was straight out of Gone with the wind, the southern plantation style architecture was something I'd only seen in photos and movies, and just a little in New Orleans. Not only was it gorgeous, but it was big. Really big. It was one of those houses where you ask, "You mean real people live in those?" We got the grand tour -- all five bedrooms plus common areas worth. My favorite room was the spacious living room that had an entire wall of glass doors leading out to the back porch overlooking the marsh. That back porch was my favorite place in all of Sea Island and was to become the focal point for the six days and five nights of our stay.

The next five days were heaven.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Light

This has to be my favorite love letter ever. If I had a girlfriend, I'd send her this because anything I wrote myself would pale in comparison. It's not full of puppy dog love or saccharine musings. It's real. For those of you who've never heard it, I thought I'd share.

The Light by Common


I never knew a luh, luh-luh, a love like this
Gotta be somethin for me to write this
Queen, I ain't seen you in a minute
Wrote this letter, and finally decide to send it
Signed sealed delivered for us to grow together
Love has no limit, let's spend it slow forever
I know your heart is weathered by what studs did to you
I ain't gon assault em cause I probably did it too
Because of you, feelings I handle with care
Some niggaz recognize the light but they can't handle the glare
You know I ain't the type to walk around with matchin shirts
Relationship is effort I will match your work
I wanna be the one to make you happiest and hurt you the most
They say the end is near, it's important that we close..
.. to the most, high
Regardless of what happen on Him let's rely

  There are times.. when you'll need someone..
  I will be by your side..
  There is a light, that shines,
  special for you, and me..

Yo, yo, check it
It's important we communicate
and tune the fate of this union to the right pitch
I never call you my bitch or even my boo
There's so much in a name, there's so much more in you
Few understand the union of woman and man
And sex and a tingle is where they assume that it land
But that's fly by night for you in the sky I write
For in these cold Chi night's moon, you my light
If heaven had a height, you would be that tall
Ghetto to coffee shop, through you I see that all
Let's stick to understandin and we won't fall
For better or worse times, I hope to me you call
So I pray everyday more than anything
friends will stay as we begin to lay
this foundation for a family - love ain't simple
Why can't it be anything worth having you work at annually
Granted we known each other for some time
It don't take a whole day to recognize sunshine

  There are times.. when you'll need someone..
  I will be by your side, oh darling
  There is a light, that shines,
  special for you, and me..

Yeah.. yo, yo, check it
It's kinda fresh you listen to more than hip-hop
and I can catch you in the mix from beauty to thrift shop
Plus you ship hop when it's time to, thinkin you fresh
Suggestin beats I should rhyme to
At times when I'm lost I try to find you
You know to give me space when it's time to
My heart's dictionary defines you, it's love and happiness
Truthfully it's hard tryin to practice abstinence
The time we committed love it was real good
Had to be for me to arrive and it still feel good
I know the sex ain't gon' keep you, but as my equal
is how I must treat you
As my reflection in light I'ma lead you
And whatever's right, I'ma feed you
Digga-da, digga-da, digga-da, digga-digga-da-da
Yo I tell you the rest when I see you, peace.

  There are times.. when you'll need someone..
  I will be by your side..
  There is a light, that shines,
  special for you, and me..

  ..take my chances.. before they pass..
  ..pass me by, oh darling..
  You need to look at the other side..
  You'll agree..

Thursday, June 16, 2005

A little bit stale?

Or perhaps a bit moldy? Nah, the mold would have already evolved into brilliant civilization and then fallen into cold lifelessness since the last time I updated this page. I've been getting a steady stream of complaints from procrastinators everywhere that I've neglected my page for the past couple months. It is true that in years past I've updated my blog much more frequently. I think that's because I used to have meaningful things to say. Now I'm just a cog in the wheel, going about my business -- the daily grind if you will. Therefore, since I clearly have nothing interesting to write about, I shall write about recent happenings that I personally find interesting and you shouldn't.

A couple weekends ago, Barbara finally returned to the U.S. from her yearlong stay in Bologna, Italy for her Masters program. She technically flew in from China where she was visiting Andrea, but that's an unimportant detail much like the rest of this post. We'd been planning her visit for a while, but I didn't really get excited until I realized the possibilities of resurrecting my dormant life of Starbucks, CPK, rides on the beach, dancing, and Cold Stone's. As if she'd read my mind, she emailed me and asked for exactly those things during her four day stay here. Thus, the fun-filled weekend began.

Everything progressed more or less as planned. I ended up chauffeuring Barbara all over the bay area because she had to meet with some lawyers for informational interviews. By Sunday, my right hand was raw from the shifter and my left leg fatigued from the clutch.

One stop included picking up Bailey, Barbara's bunny, that a nice woman in Dublin had babysat for the year she was gone. For those that don't know, Barbara has a thing for cute fuzzy animals, the most recent of which were Charlie the Chinchilla, and Bailey the Bunny, both of which I've had the (dubious) pleasure of babysitting at one time or another. Unfortunately for Bailey, Barbara ended up returning to Chicago without him this time since American Airlines would only allow dogs, cats, and birds onto the plane. I almost called them up to ask which animal they would personally prefer to sit next to on a plane: a growling (and/or yipping) canine, a fanged and clawed cat, or a cute fuzzy bunny rabbit.

We had some of the most fun on Saturday when we celebrated our riding instructor, Laurie's, birthday. I brought my new Nikon D70 SLR to the barn and had a heyday shooting photos of Jen and Tanya jumping their horses Reco and Payback. Then, after their lesson was over, Laurie began the "I'm Laurie, it's my birthday, and I'm going to play with all of my horsies" jumping session. She started on Reco first and took some fantastic jumps. The only way to describe Reco's jumps in writing is to say that he's too big and powerful for his brain. Certain words like "uncoordinated" and "overeager" come to mind. After Laurie tired of Reco, she got on Payback and romped around some more. Payback, unlike Reco has the opposite problem. His brain is too big and powerful for him. Some might even say that he's too f*#king smart for his own good. However, intelligence and coordination do pay off while jumping and he made some amazing jumps that afternoon. Even when Laurie led him astray, he remained composed, corrected for her as if it were nothing and created picture-perfect jumps every time. What an athlete he is!

After the jumping madness, we stopped by Max's Opera Cafe for a late lunch and a toast to Laurie. I delicious end to a wonderful afternoon. All of the photos I took are posted in my new photo section so be sure to take a look (as soon as I link it up).

By the end of the fourth day, both Barbara and I were pretty exhausted from the action-packed weekend. One visit to CPK, Friday night waltz, Chili's, Cold Stone's, Krispe Kreme, In-n-out, a ride on the beach, and many drives, horsies, and movies later, we concluded Barbara's visit with a calm afternoon at the park, sitting together on the grass watching Bailey hop around and nibble at the grass and our toes. It was one of those moments away from the hustle and worry of daily life that I wish could last forever.

So that was my weekend. I promise to write more. When the photos are ready, I'll let you know. Until then, peace, love, and happiness.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Driving in LA

Yesterday, I was driving my family around the downtown area and was remarking how incredibly crazy it was on those freeways. I've been spoiled by suburban freeways where 75 is slow, the lanes are straight, shoulders are flat -- not concrete walls, and drivers aren't insane.

I especially noted the 110 freeway which gave me quite a bit of grief. It pleased me greatly to see this blog post (complete with pictures!). This guy is my hero. I hope it gives those of you who've driven through downtown LA some peace knowing that InstaKarma really does happen:

iriggs.com blog post

Friday, March 18, 2005

One down, one to go

I began this year with two specific goals in mind: 1) Find a new job and 2) find a girlfriend. Though my friend, Carrie, repeatedly insisted that my priorities were backward and that I should put in nights and weekends toward Goal #2, I decided it was best to take care of item #1 first.

Now, several months later, I can officially announce that I've successfully accomplished Goal #1. All of you who've listened to me bitch about my job for the last two and a half years can now breath a collective sigh of relief. Albert finally got off his ass and quit his job! If you're wondering what the decisive kick in the butt was, it was last August, September, and October when I stopped working 45 hours a week and started working 75 hours a week. All you financial people working 80 hours a week, shut up because at least you're making six digits. And if you're not, you should quit your job too.

In the next few weeks I will be leaving my Systems Engineering position at NVIDIA and transferring to the hardware ASIC design group. The move is more minor than I thought it would be (I'm still in the same company after all -- the same floor even), but it's a decent step in the right direction for me in terms of my career. Instead of debugging boards, I will now actually have a hand in designing the chips. Perks include increased usage of my semi-atrophied brain, the ability to work from home occasionally, and less manual labor.

Unfortunately, in the process of my job search, I had to turn down a very impressive startup, PA Semi. I'm going to kick myself VERY hard when they IPO and make millions of dollars.

As for Goal #2, why do I even need to make this an objective you ask? It can't possibly be that hard right? Unfortunately, this sucker has been the most elusive one of all despite the fact that my friends inform me that I have a lot going for me -- I'm smart, nice, fun, a good listener, not bad looking, dress decently, don't stink, drive a nice car, and I love dancing (the swing/waltz kind especially), singing, dogs, horses, sunset rides along the beach, wearing suits, hanging out with friends, reading, blah blah blah. Oh yeah, and I'm rich, biatch! Okay, not really.

What more could a girl want? A lot apparently. For one, they want someone taller than them (I'm only 5'4"). Perhaps someone with a little more edge? A bad boy? Someone who wouldn't make such a good friend instead? Anyways, as you can see, there's a lot of work to be done there, so we'll see how things go now that Goal #1 is out of the way.