Friday, December 15, 2006

Run of the mouth Rosie

This past week, Rosie O'Donnell received a heap of criticism for mocking spoken Chinese. She first provided a partial apology because she didn't think what she said was offensive. Today, she issues a full apology but warns she may do it again. A few weeks earlier, O'Donnell found offensive a remark Kelly Ripa (of daytime's "Live with Regis and Kelly") made after guest host Clay Aiken covered her mouth with his hand during a show taping.

O'Donnell said that as a lesbian, Ripa's response ("I don't know where that hand has been!") implied Aiken lived a certain lifestyle. Ripa said it wasn't that way at all, but only concern that she might catch a cold or flu. O'Donnell then realized she misunderstood Ripa, and said as a parent of young children, hands get dirty and full of germs. O'Donnell and Ripa kiss and make up. End of story.

What I find hypocritical about O'Donnell is that she gets all bothered about an alleged comment about a certain lifestyle, but doesn't think that her mocking spoken Chinese was offensive. As a double minority (gay female), O'Donnell should be acutely aware that both actions are bothersome.

A primary reason why I live in San Francisco is that minorities (gay, Asian, Latino) are the majority. But, as I said before, I'll get over it. So should you.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

13 more days

I just got home about a half-hour ago. It's only Tuesday and it's already the week from hell. I skipped my gym visit (I'll try again tomorrow). Without boring you with too many details, all of us at the office are feeling the holiday crunch. Tomorrow afternoon is our holiday cocktail party, which I said I might attend. With the deadlines I need to meet tomorrow, I probably won't go.

I didn't go to last year's party either. While I enjoy our monthly department potlucks, company parties have never been particularly fun for me. I appreciate that companies do this to recognize and reward employees, but I find most of them superficial and boring. I've attended some rather extravagant office holiday parties. My first holiday party I attended in San Francisco was hosted by The Sharper Image.

The party was held at The Fairmont. Huge ballroom, tasty food, sloshed attendees. One of them, a telemarketing rep (name withheld) partied to the fullest extent. To the extent he doesn't remember what he did at the party. He only remembers the next day, trying to get home without shoes and socks. While he no longer lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, his story became legend.

My favorite office holiday party was when I was with Gymboree. It was held at The Exploratorium. We had the place to ourselves, ate tons of great food, and got to play with the exhibits. There was a really cool simulation of riding a luge. I had the best time throwing baseballs in my black dress (heels tossed off to the side) to get the speed devices to measure how fast we were throwing. Out of fear in ripping my dress, I didn't throw faster than 45 miles an hour.

As for memorable customer meltdowns, at Sharper I once had a customer who ended up calling the president's office (before PC's and online tracking) because he wouldn't accept my answer that his package was "in transit" the day it was being delivered. Another customer put her son on the phone and forced my co-worker to tell him his present wasn't arriving on time for Christmas.

What never ceases to amaze me is the amount of pressure people put on themselves during the holidays. Especially when they struggle to deliver gifts on time. My attitude to all of this is "SO FUCKING WHAT". If it's that important to get gifts to your loved ones on time, then you've got a seriously shallow view of relationships. If your recipients place so much importance on getting his/her gifts on time, then it's time to re-examine the relationship.

You don't deserve this kind of hell. Neither do the folks who have to listen to you bitch and whine about it either.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

parking violation

This afternoon as I was leaving USF's Koret Center, I found a parking ticket attached to my windshield. Guilty as charged, I've been parking in the lot without a permit for at least 2 years. They never enforced the rules, so I kept parking there. I already knew the violation fee, but seeing I owe a whopping $50 to a nearly empty university parking lot during the holiday season only pissed me off more.

It would seem with USF's recent sale with passes (buy 15 get 5 free, buy 30 get 10 free) and my parking ticket, they are needing additional revenue (most universities do). The rec pass sale is usually during the summer months and for the first time since I used the gym, they had a winter sale. I bought the 30-10 deal last week.

If USF is indeed being more aggressive in collecting revenue, I think there are much friendlier ways of doing it. First, they should change their rule on not issuing parking permits (for a fee) to lowly rec pass holders like me. Second, charge fees to all visitors to park in the lot. This is a potential cash cow because they have non-university activities going on all the time. They already have rec center staff for check-in and to process payments. To add parking fee collection to their duties would not be a big deal.

As a result of this ticket, I am thinking long and hard about whether or not I'll renew my rec pass. I've also grown a bit tired of the suburban yokels at the gym I use after work, so perhaps it's time for me to explore new gyms.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

allergy meds

Last night after leaving the gym, I went to Walgreens' to pickup my prescription nasal spray. For the past 10 years or so, I've been on allergy medication year round. As I've gotten older, so have the number of medications I have to take.

At first, it was Chlor-Trimeton. It often made me sleepy and thirsty, but it worked. Then, Claritin-D because it didn't make me drowsy. After that, Zyrtec. Most health insurance carriers stopped discounting Claritin and Zyrtec in the late 90's, and buying it over the counter got expensive. I switched to my current medication of Sudafed Plus (or the generic version). I added Rhinocort, my nasal spray, about 6 years ago, and became a regular user of Advair (for asthma) last year.

Gradually, it became harder to buy Sudafed in bulk supply because of the increased illegal manufacturing of methamphetamines from one of its key ingredients, pseudoephedrine. Just this past September, the FDA required all medications containing pseudophedrine to be taken off store counters. They could only be sold in limited supply at the pharmacy counter.

Screw that. Too much of a hassle. So I began buying the new formula of Sudafed Plus, now called Sudafed Plus PE (no pseudoephedrine). Within a week, I found the PE versions weren't working as effectively. Two weeks ago, I tried loratradine (generic version of Claritin) in place of Sudafed Plus PE and nothing improved. My tried and true combo for sneezing and runny nose has been original formula Sudafed Plus and Rhinocort.

I was still in denial despite the constant runny nose and increased tissue use. It wasn't until this week that my eyes looked redder than usual, (even after allergy eye drops) and irritation with my contact lenses that I have to go back to the original formula of Sudafed Plus.

So when I went to pick up Rhinocort, I also asked for Wal-phed, Walgreen's generic version of Sudafed Plus. I asked for 2 boxes of 48, but the pharmacist was only permitted to sell me a single box. Damn. I was required to show my drivers license and they entered it into their database to record the purchase date. I take 2 a day, so this will only last me a little over 3 weeks. Federal laws won't let me renew a supply in less than 30 days.

I took a dose when I got home and within an hour, I noticed the difference. No more runny nose and watery eyes. A wonderful relief, but know I am no longer a drug-free spring chicken. My parents and relatives at their age try to top each other on how many pills they have to take. I'm not far behind.

I missed you, pseudoephedrine. Thank you for making me feel better.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

dining table arrives

Today as scheduled, our new dining table arrived. It took about 15-20 minutes for them to unload, carry, and assemble the table (including extension leaf).

No surprises, it looks exactly like the table we saw on display at Scandinavian Designs. To make sure the table would sit 3 across, we put 3 of our existing chairs, and it fits, with plenty of room to spare. This is good because the chairs we have on backorder until January are considerably larger.

We now can officially plan our first Christmas gathering. I already have a tentative menu set. It's similar to last year's menu, but with the necessary modifications to accomodate our guests' dietary needs (me included). All is needed now are 3-5 chairs to borrow until the new ones come in.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Can't we just get along?

Unless you were hiding under a rock, the big news item yesterday was hearing actor/comedian Michael Richards (Kramer of NBC's "Seinfeld") repeating the "N" word several times in an emotional response to audience hecklers who told him he wasn't funny and he's only made it because of "Seinfeld". Sad but true.

Despite the progress we seem to have made on racial tolerance, in many ways little has changed. It wasn't all that long ago an intoxicated Mel Gibson said some not so nice things to a police officer. It seems now just about any public figure says anything disparaging gets in trouble for what they say. Usually it's in the heat of the moment and without much thought.

Having grownup in the Midwest, I've had my own experiences with racism. Kids in school and in the malls pointing, staring, and pulling their eyelids sideways mocking in pidgin English. Being told over the phone after they learn my last name that I don't sound Chinese. When we first moved into our house in Columbus, Ohio, my mom had to have our number changed because of the crank calls about our ethnicity. Luckily, most of this wasn't threatening. Just plain cruel.

While I'm not excusing Richards or Gibson for their remarks, I think we've become a bit too sensitive to racism. I also think we define things as racist too easily. Racist things have been said to me, but mostly it was because their expectation was that I'm someone who doesn't look or act like them.

Racism is mean, hurtful and can cause irreparable damage to a reputation and/or career. And I know somewhere (likely outside of California), an insensitive remark will be said about my ethnicity and/or gender. But I'll get over it. You should too.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Ohio State vs. Michigan

As many of us have already heard, former University of Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler passed away today. Schembechler suffered a fatal heart attack while taping his weekly show, on the eve of college football's fiercest rivalry, Ohio State versus Michigan.

It holds special importance to me because I was born and raised in Columbus, and still bleed Scarlet and Gray. When I applied to college, I considered smaller schools within the state, but my heart and head knew there was no other choice other than Ohio State. While I was a student, I was extremely fortunate to be a season ticket holder. The games were like nothing else I've experienced.

Both schools became the perennial powerhouses they are now because of Schembechler and his former mentor, Woody Hayes. Without the legacy of Hayes and Schembechler, there is no Ohio State-Michigan rivalry. Period.

This year the stakes are huge. Ohio State is top ranked, and Michigan is ranked second. Both schools are undefeated and have dominated their opponents all season. It is considered unofficially the National Championship game. Tomorrow's winner will likely go on to the actual National Championship game in January.

As much as I am saddened by Bo's passing, I want the Buckeyes to whip some Wolverine ass. GO BUCKS!
image courtesy of The Ohio State University

Thursday, November 16, 2006

office moochers

Today was the second of our office lunches this week, my department's (Finance) monthly potluck, with Human Resources as our guests this month.

At noon, there were at least 6 people in the kitchen preparing and heating up food, so it should have been apparent there was another luncheon and not a mass scramble to get rid of leftovers. But it wasn't, at least not for one person. Most people in the office go in and out of the back door through the kitchen, and this was no different for this person (gender and department shall remain anonymous).

While I was slicing the 4.5 pound pork roast I brought to be put on a serving platter, this person grabbed a paper plate and put a few slices of pork on it. When I noticed this, I immediately said that my food wasn't leftovers for everyone. The person said sorry and put the slices back.

I've worked in enough places to know this is universal for all offices. For some people, they lack understanding of social cues and office etiquette to know any better. For other people, it's sheer laziness. They no longer have to walk or drive to get lunch, and even better, the food is FREE.

When I worked at Gymboree, the Finance division used to have breakfast every Friday. Each department (Accounts Payables, General Ledger, Payroll, etc.) used to alternate to supply the food. Our breakfasts got so famous that other divisions used to crash the event. We ran out of food before everyone in Finance got their share.

There was one Friday I remember vividly when my department, Sales Audit, brought in Noah's Bagels. It pissed me off to no end that 2 women from the Art Department saw me carrying the bag of bagels, followed me, and actually waited for me to put the bagels out. I told them in a surly tone that the food wasn't ready and to come back once everyone else in Finance got their food.

We ended up having to distribute a stern company e-mail that if they wanted breakfast, then notify Finance and we would include them on the distribution list. Message acknowledged and understood. End of mooching.

Yeah, I probably take etiquette and manners for granted. My family's restaurant attracted people from all walks of life, therefore I got early and frequent exposure to all kinds of social interaction. As a child, I was either in the company of being the only Asian-American, or among all Chinese. Nothing in-between.

My advice to anyone who's not sure what to do in an unfamiliar social situation: SHUTUP, LISTEN and OBSERVE. Throw in unfailing politeness, and you'll do fine.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

mixup on the office lunches

A correction to yesterday's blog about the upcoming holiday lunches. Tomorrow is the company's Thanksgiving lunch. Thursday is my division's (Finance) pot luck. I got a head start by having a burger and fries for lunch today. I relieved some of the gluttony running 3+ miles on the treadmill tonight and dined on salad and soup from Whole Foods afterwards.

The never ending battle with the bulge marches on...

Monday, November 13, 2006

Gorging season begins

This week at the office we have 2 lunch celebrations. Wednesday is our division's monthly potluck. Thursday is our company's Thanksgiving celebration. I LOVE turkey, so eating moderately will be difficult. If it weren't for my regular gym visits, I'd have to pull out spandex and leave it out until late January.

image courtesy of

Thursday, November 09, 2006

under contract

Just checked the San Francisco Multiple Listing Service to find out the status of our old place on 6th Avenue. It's no longer listed because it's in contract. Sounds like the price reduction was the ticket. Location doesn't hurt either.

To the new homeowners, good luck. You'll need it.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Preapproved credit card offers

I received this weekend a preapproved offer to apply for the Discover card. Off and on for the past 10+ years, they've been trying to get me as a cardholder. When they finally called me, I told them to go away and take me off any future offers.

Because another offer got sent after I told them to stop, this is what I do to all credit card companies when they don't take no for an answer. Whenever I get an offer in the mail, I take the application that requires a signature and tear it up. Not in shreds, but just enough so that my name can be still be seen. I then take the shredded form, place in the postage paid envelope so graciously provided, and mail it back to them. Sometimes it usually takes 2-3 mailings from the same card issuer, but eventually it stops.

Of course, what will get phone calls and mailings to stop is to call the various agencies to "opt out". A few, such as the Discover mailing, will still sneak through the cracks. Why card issuers think these forms of solicitation still work is beyond me.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

National Novel Writing Month

Today I read on Yahoo! that November is National Novel Writing Month. Ever since Creative Writing in elementary school, I have always had aspirations to write. Until I started this blog, it had been 6 years since I kept a regular journal. Keeping up with the blog has been a piece of cake compared to the conventional pen and pad.

But, with demands on daily commitments (work, exercise, sleep, etc.) my best bet is to continue to write about snippets of my life rather than commit to a large body of work such as a novel.

It doesn't mean I won't stop wishing.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

together again and again...

Over the weekend, I was reading the New York Times online. Most of my reading is spent in the Movies section to catch up on upcoming films that I might want to see. One of the upcoming movies I read about is "American Gangster", due out some time in 2007. Directed by Ridley Scott, it stars Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington.

Scott and Crowe previously collaborated on "Gladiator", the film that earned Crowe his first Oscar. Scott directs Crowe in the soon to be released "A Good Year". You'll have to go back to 1995 to find Washington and Crowe previously appeared together in "Virtuosity". At that time, Crowe was relatively unknown except in his home country of Australia.

In "Virtuosity", Crowe played the bad guy, Washington the good guy/cop. Roles will be reversed in "American Gangster". Washington, no slouch to acting either, has 2 Oscars. Got all the makings for a blockbuster film. We'll have to wait and see.

Monday, October 30, 2006

end of daylight savings

Wow, what a change. Not only did daylight savings end this past weekend, so did the warm weather. It was warm and sunny on Saturday, then cold and overcast in San Francisco on Sunday.

No wonder the season's called fall.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Halloween Bag Creations

This week at the office, we had the opportunity to create our own Halloween bags to be hung outside our cubicles. Almost everyone in the Finance department made a bag. I took a few pictures and decided to share them in tonight's entry. We've had visits from other departments complimenting us on our decorating prowess. We're already envied for our monthly potlucks. Yes, bean counters know how to have fun.

yours truly

designed by Letty for Jerry

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Internet Explorer 7

I just updated to IE7 provided by Yahoo! I've spent the last 20 minutes on it getting acquainted. Like anything new, it takes getting used to, but the newest, coolest feature on it is that it has tabs. This enables me to move around to and from different websites without having to open a new window. Very cool because I always have at least 2 websites (blog and e-mail, e-mail and news, comparison shopping) open at the same time.

It's getting late, so I'll resume exploring tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Internal theft

As an asset protection specialist for a Bay Area based retailer, I usually don't "talk shop" outside the office because it would be inappropriate for me to comment publicly about the work I do. But I find it amazing that in the 20+ years I've been in retail, some things will never change.

Today my manager asked me to look into a potential internal theft issue regarding company issued gift cards. I found information in my audit to support the case, performed the necessary actions to prevent loss, and notified the appropriate personnel. This is the third time in a month an employee has been caught stealing gift cards. Not only did we terminate the last two we caught, we had the local police arrest them.

Many employees that steal from us do it because they have financial problems. Sometimes it's a significant other who took all of his/her money, or a family member with a huge medical bill due to a serious illness or injury. Sometimes it's because he/she needs to support a drug habit.

While these are all understandable reasons to steal, the end doesn't justify the means. For me, the incurable insomnia created from the guilt and shame are reasons enough. I value far too much the few hours of sleep I do manage to get during the week.

I'd like to think that everyone we've caught stealing learned his/her lesson and won't do it again. But in reality, not likely. Next time they'll just work harder on not getting caught.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Order verification

This past weekend, I got a message on my cell phone to call Eastbay Sports about my recent Nike Shox purchase. My initial thought was that my card was declined, or that the item was out of stock.

When I called Eastbay back, they wanted to make sure I authorized the order shipped to my work address. It's been about 13 years, but what Eastbay's Payment Processing department did this past Saturday was exactly what I did for 8 years at The Sharper Image's Order Processing department.

It brought back a lot of memories. I met with all kinds of people, and became close friends with several of my regular contacts (Josh, Roger, Pauline). I confirmed purchases with celebrities such as Joe Piscopo, Rush Limbaugh, Kenny Loggins, and Garrison Keillor. I once had a very nice chat with Jeannie Buss, daughter of Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss and at the time, wife of Olympic volleyball player Steve Timmons.

I wouldn't have gotten any of my jobs after Sharper Image without the experience I had there. But, it's not exactly a job that opens career paths. Most people who worked in our department did it primarily as a stepping stone to something better (or so they thought). The company itself is under very difficult times (see Tretakoff Musings, September 30 blog entry).

For me, I came into retail because I wanted no part of my family's restaurant business. It's an industry I come back to because the work outside of retail isn't as fun or fulfilling. The best part is that my paycheck goes a lot further.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Sneaker snobbery

Today I took the day off, or as the Brits refer to as "holiday". I didn't do anything spectacular. I ran out to Target in Colma to pick up a few necessities for home. Then I headed to Stonestown Galleria for lunch and browsing.

My motivation to browse was because I'm in the market for new running shoes. I usually rotate 2 pairs at a time, and the current 2 pairs are different colors of the same shoe, Nike Shox Ride 2. One pair in silver with the fuschia swoosh, the other in white with a blue swoosh. If you had no idea of what I just said, then you're not a sneaker snob (and previously professed movie snob) like I am. The silver/fuschia shoes are now over a year old and need to be replaced.

To replace running shoes for me is always a scientific expedition. Stop reading here if you don't admire running shoes as much as I do. Anything read beyond here is at your risk. Lisa's ex-husband Joe is about the only person I know who has the same obsession. As mentioned in a March 2006 blog, I don't have a problem forking out $150 to buy a new pair.

The history of my sneaker obsession began in the 5th grade, when I got my first pair of boys' sneakers, Converse All-Stars. At that time, it was daring for girls to buy boys' shoes. I did it because a childhood classmate, Chris Shadwick, wore boys' sneakers. She was Etna Elementary School's version of "Be Like Mike" (Michael Jordan).

Chris was smart, cool, and most of all, very athletic. She was as good or better than most boys in sports. I was enormously flattered when Sherman told me the real estate person involved in the sale of our Columbus restaurant about 10 years ago said his aunt knew our family. The aunt was Chris.

But I digress. Back to the sneaker history. After Converse, I then upscaled to a pair of Adidas Vienna. Then it was Puma, then Nike. My first pair of Nikes were the Cortez, which to me, is the shoe that set off the Nike popularity. I had 2 pairs of Cortez, both in white, one with the red swoosh, the other in blue. You can still buy Cortez versions of Nike, but are in the "retro" section. Retro but still cool. These are probably my favorite sneakers of all time.

In my adult life, I've worn Reebok, K-Swiss, Asics and Saucony. I've owned only one pair of New Balance and never wore Brooks or Mizuno. I haven't worn Adidas in 20 years. Asics and Saucony are recent retirees since I became a gym rat and are the best bang for your bucks. But Nike was coming out with hot but not too flashy shoes that was competitive in price with the top of the line Asics and Saucony. Which got me to buy the Nike Shox 2. They give me great support and cushioning and I love showing them off at the gym.

But as I am with cars, I don't keep running shoes until they die. I like to stay up-to-date. It is recommended that running shoes get replaced about every 6 months. I began researching online a few months ago and found that Nike Shox Ride 2 is discontinued and is now Shox Ride 3. Yuck. The shoelace eyelets are sewn on the outside flaps, rather than the traditional eyelet holes. I've pulled the stitches out of this kind of eyelet on previous shoes. Plus I didn't like the diagonal lines with contrasting colors.

I then found the Nike Shox TL IV in purple. It was on my wish list until recently, when I saw that they now come in black. Ooooh.... Sports Authority in San Mateo (formerly SportsMart) usually has the latest in gear so I go there because the shoes are on the shelves to try on. Once I try them on and know they fit, I buy them online. I intentionally limit big ticket purchases from this location because they wouldn't price match a softball bat about 8 years ago.

This time, the Nike Shox are all kept in the back and you have to ask a salesperson for assistance. I can understand that because they'd be stolen within minutes if they were out as open stock. I saw the Shox TL IV in purple and asked to try on a pair. I noticed that they were on sale for $100. Uh oh. After bringing them out, I noticed how light they were as I was lacing them up. Then I put them on. Oh baby. Comfortable and way cool.

Salesman did everything he could to get me to buy the shoes (on sale, last pair I have, sure they'll match the black you wear at the gym...) but I simply didn't want purple. I ended up buying them (in black, of course) online that evening at Eastbay Sports. I used to buy my running shoes online at Lady Foot Locker, but Eastbay Sports actually manages their site and supplies their online stock.
The trip to Stonestown this afternoon was so I could see the TL IV in black. Sure enough, there they were, at Nordstrom's. Oh man, what a shoe. I am so glad I chose black. I should get them in about a week to 10 days. This obsession isn't going to go away anytime soon. But will this pursuit look dignified when I'm 80?
image courtesy of Eastbay Sports

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

inferior American versions

While watching Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report", a film trailer for Martin Scorsese's "The Departed" came on screen. When I first read about the plot, I immediately knew this film is a remake of the highly acclaimed Hong Kong film, "Infernal Affairs". Initial reviews and box office turnout have been favorable. But it's not likely I'll see it.

Any film lover would tell me, come on, it's Martin Scorsese, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio. How can you go wrong? For me, it's a prejudice. I've seen far too many American versions of TV and films that have been picked up apart and dumbed down so much that it makes my skin crawl.

A few examples: "Touching Evil", originally done in a 3-part mini-series in the UK, starring Robson Green. USA Network had its own version (Bruce Willis was a producer) that took place in San Francisco. I watched the first episode and saw only a remote resemblance to the original version. Awful. No surprise that it lasted only one season.

"Tortilla Soup", starring Hector Elizondo and Elizabeth Peña. As was listed in a previous blog, this was a mediocre adaptation from Ang Lee's "Eat Drink Man Woman". Ang Lee's film is so much better.

There are a couple of American TV/film adaptations that are very good in their own right, but in my humble opinion, the original versions are superior. Examples are Steven Soderbergh's "Traffic" (UK's "Traffik" was a mini-series) and "The Magnificent Seven" (adapted from Akira Kurosawa's "The Seven Samurai").

No doubt I've gotten pickier about the films I want to see. It wouldn't offend me if I was labeled a movie snob. Look at this way. A bad film is 90 to 120 minutes of time you'll never get back. Free time is too valuable to waste.

Friday, October 13, 2006


We hadn't seen the Tretakoffs in a few weeks and thought it was long overdue to get together for dinner at our favorite neighborhood spot, Hotei.

This morning Amy called and asked if we would like to join them at Hotei tonight rather than tomorrow. I thought she had called because Josh told her to in response to my e-mail. Turns out Amy didn't know I e-mailed Josh. All of us had Hotei on the brain. We waited about 20 minutes for a table, and gobbled everything (shrimp tempura, chicken kara-age, miso, etc.) in sight.

Before I began writing this entry, I looked up "Hotei" on Google. Here's what the website says:

Hotei is a deity of prosperity and happiness. Tradition identifies him with the eccentric Chinese priest Pu-tai. Hotei is usually depicted laughing and with a huge belly (symbolizing his benevolent nature) and carrying -- or sitting beside -- a huge bag filled with riches.

Couldn't say it any better. I'd rather stuff my face.
image courtesy of

Thursday, October 12, 2006

What's in a name?

Yes, I realize all too well the demographic audience that watches ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" never watched or probably even heard of CBS's "Diagnosis Murder", which originally aired over a decade ago. But what brilliant mind decided to name the new hunky surgeon on "Grey's Anatomy" Mark Sloan?

The writers didn't do their homework, because it was Dick Van Dyke's character's name on "Diagnosis". Plus they're both physicians. One could have checked this in in about 30 seconds.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Mom's birthday

Today is Mom's birthday. Even though she's officially retired, she's still as busy as she ever was. Because of the time difference, landline phone without voice mail/answering machine and no cell phone, it's very hard to reach her.

She spends everyday except Sundays doing errands and housework for my grandmother. She starts around 8 a.m., takes an afternoon nap and finishes up around 6:30 p.m. She then has dinner with Dad, then spends many of her evenings playing mah-jongg. I've tried calling Mom at my grandmother's place during the day, but I usually end up getting one of the domestics. They don't speak English and my Cantonese really sucks, so I wait and try to catch her at the end of her nap.

I haven't met anyone so addicted to mah-jongg as much as Mom. She's played for as long as I can remember. We got to know the other Chinese kids in the central Ohio area because Mom often played with other mothers who brought their children. During the summer months, it wasn't rare to be out after 2 a.m. When we got older and didn't have to go with her anymore, she'd play until 4 a.m. and get up 4 hours later to go to work. I remember always seeing at least 4 sets of m-j tiles around the house. We had a family room added to our house exclusively for mah-jongg.

During the blizzard of '78, our family restaurant was forced to close for 2 days. So what did my parents do? They had the staff come over to our house and play m-j. Whenever relatives drove in from Cleveland to visit, they'd play as soon as they got to the house until 4 a.m., or until my relatives decided to head back. Once I moved to San Francisco and came back to visit at Christmas, she'd always drive after dinner regardless of the weather to play with friends at their restaurants. This has continued since she and Dad moved to New York. There's only a few nights she doesn't play.

My cousin Chel told Mom last year one can now play m-j on the computer. Mom's not computer literate, and I know for her it wouldn't be any fun. For Mom, m-j is the ideal way to be able to relax and have fun. It's just past 1 a.m. in NYC, and I bet she's still playing.

Happy birthday, Mom.
image courtesy of

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Nip in the air

It's Saturday afternoon and right now we can hear the Blue Angels in their yearly ritual. While it's crystal clear and sunny, there's a bit a nip in the air that tells me it's fall. In Northern California, it's much subtler than New England, but if you live here long enough, it's noticeable.

Now that things have settled down, I'm finding that I'm doing more cooking. At our old place, I rarely cooked on Fridays. Last night was the second Friday in a row I decided to cook. Granted it was the same thing (salmon and veggies), but it was something I wanted to do rather than had to do. I'm sure this is because we now have a dishwasher and a cleaning person.

I've become quite domesticated. This morning I found myself browsing with piqued interest in the pictures from Martha Stewart's Living magazine. I would rather entertain at home than go out to a fancy dinner. Recipes for meals (forget about baking) don't look so hard as they once did. I'm still a huge proponent of takeout and the easy, quick and tasty meal, but I made earlier this week seafood risotto from scratch (no box mix!) for our monthly department pot luck.

Despite all of this, Martha has no reason to worry. She'll still outdo me hands down. Literally.
image courtesy of

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Fall rain

Today was our first rain of the season. It's a bit early as Bay Area's rainy season usually doesn't begin until November. But with the hot and muggy days we had this past July, it all balances itself out.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Nosy neighbor

This afternoon my plans after the gym was to go to the open house at our old place. I ended up going to 2 other open houses in the neighborhood. I was tempted to look at 2 others. On my way to grab a late lunch, I stopped at the open house on 1362 8th Avenue.

There were 2 women that were leaving when I got there. I was there no more than 10 minutes and no one else came in during that time. The condo is about 1200 square feet, with many renovations, 3 bedrooms and 1 bath. It was nice enough, but the rooms felt small. They updated the stove and refrigerator, but not the cabinets. It didn't look quite right. I did like the back yard and garden. Asking price is $789K. I think that's still a bit too high.

I then headed to Rain Tree Cafe for lunch. Afterwards, I trekked over to our old place. When I got to the building, I walked in and immediately went into Caroline's and Esther's old place. I thought the floors were polished. They weren't. Their kitchen, as shown in SF's Multiple Listing service, was renovated. I saw Ruby's (Caroline's and Esther's daughter) room and saw that the room had a back door which led to the utility room. If I hadn't lived in the building and saw this for the first time at an open house, I would have not been impressed.

Time to see our old place next. Walked up the steps and found all the staging and pictures were done from here. Living room looked fine. First bedroom, which was our study/guest room looked fine as well. Typical staged stuff, but again, nothing that said wow to me. Then our bedroom. No wow factor there either. Next stop, kitchen. Based upon the pictures I'd seen, I knew this was going to have the most dramatic transformation.

It was. Everything I described on Friday was pretty much how I saw it. Because I like to cook, seeing the changes impressed me. Especially where they moved the refrigerator and added a cabinet area to that side of the wall. And I was right, the stove and dishwasher weren't Bosch. All of the major appliances were Frigidare.

The paint job done on the outside of the building 9 months ago is showing its age. The window bars in front of the ground level unit show rust marks. It looks like somebody just painted over a building without fixing up the blemishes and cracks. The good part is that at least 4 parties came to see to the place while I was there. Again, whether or not anyone bites is the catch.

On the way home, I attended the open house at 225-227 Judah Street. The upper unit was the only unit being shown because the lower unit is still tenant occupied. Unit was large enough and some rooms weren't completely finished with renovation. I didn't like that the floor mat at the base of the staircase was soiled and that the bedrooms had ugly oatmeal carpeting. Two of the bedrooms had sliding doors that opened out onto a deck large enough for entertaining, but don't like that access to it is through the bedrooms.

Gloating enthusiastically now. Don't these people ever watch "Flip That House"?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Role redux?

I know I'm among the very few, but last night I caught the second episode of the new NBC TV series "Kidnapped". Yes, the storyline is nothing new. Yes, it supplanted "Law & Order" from its longtime slot. But the primary actors in the series are all very good: Jeremy Sisto, Timothy Hutton, Dana Delany and especially, Delroy Lindo.

Because I'm a big fan of trivia, especially in movies, I noticed a few references from previous films of the actors. Whether or not this is intentional, I don't know.
1. Timothy Hutton's character's first name is Conrad. Conrad was Hutton's character's name in his Oscar winning performance in "Ordinary People".
2. Last night, as Jeremy Sisto's character Knapp is walking along Manhattan chatting with an informant, there was a large sign in the street scene showing "Bubba Gump Shrimp Co." The family bodyguard, Virgil, is Mykelti Williamson, who portrayed Bubba in "Forrest Gump".

Josh and Amy tell me that ABC's "Boston Legal" does this with constant references to William Shatner's previous TV roles (Kirk, T.J. Hooker) constantly.

To me, it's a clever device that's fun and keeps fans on their toes.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Tissue parade

I caught a cold Friday. Because of my allergies, I often confuse the start of a cold as a bad allergy day. On the drive home from Michael's (Bloom) gig in Half Moon Bay, I was still in denial even though I was grabbing tissues every 3 minutes. By the time I got into San Francisco, the wads had taken up most of the map pocket in my car. It wasn't until I woke up Saturday with sinus pressure and a sore throat and came to the conclusion this is now a cold.

On top of that, my left eyelid and forehead have welts which give the impression I lost a boxing bout. This happened very early Thursday morning, after a buzzing mosquito woke me up, probably looking for another area of my body to attack. I also have welts on my left wrist and right shoulder. The last time I swelled up like this from insect bites was in high school, only a lot worse. My right eye completely swelled shut and my lower lip looked like I had a collagen injection overdose.

Despite these maladies, I will be out the door (obviously not so bright-eyed and bushy tailed) Monday morning to go to work.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Dining table on hold

Today I called Michelle at Sphere Designs to check on the status of the dining table we ordered about 2 weeks ago. It was supposed to be in sometime or around September 15. She called back while I was returning from lunch.

The table was supposed to be have been shipped from the factory today, but wasn't included in the shipment. The next order won't be ready until next month. As a result of the error, she offered 2 options: a) deliver immediately a medium table (ours was large) to use temporarily until the large one comes in; or b) immediately credit $100 off the purchase.

Since we still have the kitchen table from our old place, I decided to wait until the large table comes in and accept the $100 credit. No big deal, we'll just keep the old table for a few weeks longer. Plus, what was originally $499 is now $399. Michelle offered compensation without any prompting on my part, which is how we all should be serviced.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Happy b-day, Pop

Today is Dad's 71st birthday. I usually call him to wish him a happy birthday. Because of his limited command of English, the conversation is no more than a few minutes. He then puts Mom on the phone for me to find out how things really are. My phone call today wasn't any different.

For the second time in about 3-4 years, both my parents forgot about today. No, I'm not worried that they're suffering memory loss. It's just that both of them like my brother Sherman don't like to make a big deal about their birthdays. I think it's a cultural thing, as Chinese value the importance of family over individuals. On the other hand, it can also inhibit a person to speak up for himself/herself.

Mom's birthday is in less than a month. I need to make sure I call. One year I forgot and Dad called the next day to remind me. It caused a slight tarnish in my otherwise scary recall abilities. Not to worry, it remains intact. I got yesterday notification of 2 possible matches of people I once knew previously. One was the right person, the other wasn't. I knew this because the high school and current residence matched what I remembered. The other wasn't as the birthday was different.

Just don't count on me as your star witness at a murder trial.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Treadmill tale

This morning I went to the gym in Foster City rather than at the USF Koret Center as I usually do. This was because I wanted to go into the office, cleanup and organize the piles of paperwork that have accumulated on my desk since taking on the Treasury and Cash Management duties last month.

Since our move to 8th Avenue, I've cut back on gym visits from 4 to 3 times a week. It's been good because the time I would have used at the gym has been spent browsing for our condo, plus my muscles haven't been as sore. I was probably overtraining and wasn't allowing enough rest time between workouts. As a result, I've been running faster and longer on the treadmill and have more strength on the rowing machine.

When things with the condo settle down, I plan to go back to 4 workout days, but the 4th visit away from the gym. I'm not sure what it will be, but I've read it's beneficial to cross train to prevent burnout. I'm not a spring chicken anymore, so I'll do whatever works for me to continue exercising.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Nine Eleven

Many of us will have his or her own memories of September 11, 2001. Up until then, it still was a significant date (Josh's and Amy's wedding anniversary, Lisa's former wedding anniversary, and my ex-roommate Humda's birthday).

Sherman, my parents and my grandparents live in lower Manhattan and did in 2001. My grandfather passed away last year. Lisa and Joe called me that morning to make sure my family was OK. I had just talked to Cindy in Ohio to find out if she heard anything. She would an hour later and everyone in my family was OK.

Later that week, I got a call from Mindy, who would become my manager at my current job. While Mindy is no longer here, my 5 year anniversary is October 1. This will be my first job where I have worked 5 continuous years.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Tiki Arthur-Bloom

This afternoon, Lisa and Michael hosted a brunch from their home in Half Moon Bay. Although they moved back to the Bay Area in late January, this was the first time all we got to see Casa de Arthur/Bloom.

We also got to meet their newest addition to the household, a gray tiger striped cutie named Tiki. She first appeared during their garage sale and never strayed far from the house. Michael and Lisa took her in a few weeks later and is now a permanent resident. She's about 12 weeks old with very soft fur and is very social. When Lisa brought her up to meet the other guests, she laid on her bed and calmly listened to the numerous conversations in the room.

Our kitties, Che and Jawa don't handle strangers well. Both of them have tried to stay put in a room of strangers, but their "fraidy-cat" instincts have them bolting to our bedroom within a few minutes.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Today is my 23rd anniversary of my move from Columbus, OH to San Francisco, CA. I actually arrived in San Francisco about a week earlier, but I consider my anniversary on the first day I started my job at The Sharper Image. This anniversary is significant because I now have lived in San Francisco half my life.

In 1983, I was staying with my cousin Wilgee and his then girlfriend (now wife) Amanda in San Bruno. About 3 weeks later, I found my first apartment in the Outer Sunset district. The rent was only $350/month, and I got a quick lesson in parking etiquette when I got a nasty note on my windshield. This was because my car partially blocked a neighbor's driveway. I got visitors non-stop for almost 2 years. It started with Cindy and Connie, Stan and his friend Ray, Mary, Sherman, and numerous other relatives.

For the first few years, my mom always hoped I would consider moving back to Ohio. Despite tight finances in the late 80's until mid-1993, I stayed put in San Francisco. The last time Mom ever asked me about coming home was immediately after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. I was actually on a plane that day to visit my family. She thought maybe the earthquake would scare me home. It did exactly the opposite. I remained glued to the TV at Cindy's house until 2 am, wanting to know if everyone I knew was OK. It became clear where I considered home.

I love my life here. I don't want to live anywhere else. I'm far from wealthy but I make a decent living in a job I really like. I share my life with a geeky car enthusiast and 2 adorable kitties. My dearest friend Lisa moved back to the area at the beginning of this year. I am a new homeowner in a wonderful neighborhood in the best city in the world. I have it about as good as it gets.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Sony Vaio VGN SZ240

After having wireless access for less than 2 weeks, I've gotten spoiled and want more. I just ordered and customized a new Sony Vaio notebook tonight from With leftover money from escrow, I decided it was time to fork out the greenbacks. Here's why.

1. My current Vaio is over 5 years old.
With the wireless card, access to the internet is still slow.

2. I lose connectivity at least 3-4 times a session.
Especially when I blog. It's been extremely annoying to see the connection window pop up throughout the session.

3. Customization enables to include only the features I want.
Features I don't want or need are piled on the notebooks I saw online and in stores. For the Vaio model I want, including only the features I want keeps the cost down (at least $500). This is exactly what I did when I bought my BMW325i, saving almost $3K in asking only for what I want.

Building the notebook will go into production on or around August 28. I should have the new notebook after the Labor Day holiday.

I know, I know, I said we'd buy a new dining table and office chairs. This is still our plan. But I couldn't wait anymore. I've been at the website everyday for the past week. I went to CompUSA in San Bruno yesterday after work to see the Vaio models.

I originally wanted the FJ series because of the fancy colors (raspberry, bright blue, green). But the FJ series doesn't enable me to customize with the Intel Duo Core Processor and Windows XP Professional. Then I was interested in the FE series because of the cost. But when I saw one of them at CompUSA, I thought it was big and ugly. The unit looked like an unsuccessful cross-breed between a Dell and Macbook. This is when I decided to customize.

So, finally, in the next few weeks, I'll have a new, much faster computer.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Fancy schmancy

About 3 weeks ago, I made a trip to Bed, Bath, and Beyond to buy a few basics for our new bathroom. This would be our first night spent in our new home and want to make sure our first showers would be furnished with shiny new supplies.
One of them was a shower caddy.

I spent at least 15 minutes looking at shower caddies. I bought the largest, prettiest caddy I could find with special slots that hold shampoo bottles upside down. I got it home and tried to put it up. Couldn't get one of the two suction cups to stick to the tile. I e-mailed the manufacturer, explained my plight, and 2 days later, got a nice e-mail saying they would send out replacement suction cups.

It took nearly 2 weeks to get the suction cups because they sent them via UPS. I ended up re-routing online the package to be sent to my work address. I got the package the next day. When I got home, I pulled out the first of 3 sets of replacement suction cups. The first one, like the previous one, wouldn’t stick to the tile (arggggh!)

Then I managed to find a way to get the suction cups to stick. I pushed in the suction cups against the tile, sans shower caddy. Ah ha! I got the cheapest but critical pieces to stay stuck to the tile! Ego now enormously inflated, I attached the caddy to the suction cups. I now have the stainless steel monstrosity firmly in place against the tile wall.

Finally! Or so I thought. I pulled one of the shampoo bottles from the end of the tub and tried to put it on the lower shelf. I couldn’t get the bottle to stand upright on the shelf. I then moved the bottle to the top shelf, but it couldn’t stand it upright there either because it hit the shower head (not as depicted in photo).

The caddy is now in a plastic bag in the hallway. I plan to exchange it for another caddy tomorrow at the Bed, Bath, and Beyond near work. This time, I’ll only consider caddies with a lot of clearance space for tall shampoo bottles.

image courtesy of Bed, Bath and Beyond

Monday, August 14, 2006

Internet access

A big thanks to Josh for coming over yesterday to do above and beyond the call of duty. He not only got me connectivity for my dormant laptop, he got me wireless access with the router and network card he bought as housewarming presents. It's great to have gadget freaks/geeks as friends.

Bosch dishwasher and wireless connectivity. Life is sweet!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Summer solstice

As I was leaving work this evening, my co-worker Rich mentioned that tomorrow is the longest day of the year. Go outside and enjoy. There hasn’t been much fog in San Francisco this week so we should get to see a decent sunset.

Even though I love fog, the part that bums me out after tomorrow night is that daylight diminishes continuously until December 21. I remember on a trip to Banff, Alberta in late June 1997 that the sun didn’t set until 11 p.m. Incredible.

If only we were in Alaska right now. The sun won’t set until midnight.

Monday, June 19, 2006

J.T. Snow update

While watching tonight’s Giants/Angels game, the trivia question of the evening asked was “Who won Gold Gloves as both a Giant and an Angel?” For me, this was an extremely easy question (and listed on my blog last night). It was nice to hear Giants announcers Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow mention J.T. was one of their favorites as well.

Duane went on to say that J.T. got put on “assignment” today. What this means is the Red Sox have 10 days to trade or release him. I hope a team will pick him up. But I can’t think of any team at the moment that needs a role player with J.T.’s specific skills.

Former Giants Kirk Rueter and Marquis Grissom were also designated for assignment before making the painful decision to retire. Snow, Rueter and Grissom were all well-liked and consummate team players. But like those longtime employees we don’t want to see laid off, this is a business, and sadly, we have to see them go.

There has been discussion that J.T. may return to the Giants, but it’s not likely. New utility players Mark Sweeney and Jose Vizcaino are more versatile than J.T., as both play more than one position and have done well off the bench this season. Travis Ishikawa has also gotten some playing time and appears to be groomed for 1st base full time should Lance Niekro’s nagging injuries continue.

Whatever happens, good luck to J.T. I’ll be following your status for the next few weeks.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

I'm Gumby, dammit!

I haven’t blogged in awhile and it wasn’t because I was ill or on vacation. I’ve been operating from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. non-stop this week. Monday – laundry night. Tuesday and Wednesday - gym night. Tonight – condo meeting. Tomorrow – haircut and color.

I know I could have made this less stressful by skipping a gym night, or not insisting on cooking a dish last night for our potluck lunch today. But when the CFO said my Pad Thai tastes great, then I'll cook all the time. This only has meaning for people like me who enjoy cooking. I only wish I had more time to do it.

Then tonight’s condo meeting went on about an hour too long. The problem is that we had 2 parties on conference call. Neither had the agenda Pam sent to our condo group website, and there was a tendency to ramble. It looks like the closing date will be mid-July. Our move out date is July 31. We’re cutting it close, but I’m fairly certain we’ll make it.

Work continues to keep me busy and I prefer it that way, but it can be too much. For the past 3 years, I haven’t been able to take more than a week’s vacation. If I take any time off, my work will sit there because I really don’t have a backup person. The longer I’m gone, the more work I have to do when I get back. My vacation hours will stop accruing if I keep going at this pace. I try to prevent this by taking off a Friday here and there.

My next Friday off is the end of this month. Can't wait.

photo courtesy of

Monday, June 05, 2006

Oh. I see it now.

Take it from Josh to tell me why he likes my phone so much. He commented on yesterday’s entry about my inability to transfer pictures from my phone using Bluetooth. Well, I found it a few minutes ago. It was very simple.

From the “My Stuff” menu, I go to: Pictures>Cameraphone>Send>Bluetooth. I didn’t bother to go there. I attribute this oversight to the same fatigue I’ve been suffering for the past week. Tell me anyone is going to read an 87-page manual before turning on the phone and not want to play with it.

I also read the battery could have reduced capacity the first few weeks the phone is in operation. Let’s wait and see.

I should shutup and go to bed now. Before other brain functions begin to suffer needlessly.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Bitch and moan

I told myself this evening I’d do a blog entry, only to find I’ve bitched and moaned with nothing written worthwhile. It’s been the same at work. Fatigue kills creativity.

Kevin called today and confirmed what I already figured out, 5 of the units in our building are now under contract. It’s good news, but all I want to know is (and have been for over a month), when the hell do we get to move?

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Slanted Screen

Today we headed to the Roxie Film Center on 16th and Valencia in the Inner Mission district to catch the documentary, “The Slanted Screen”. Written, produced and directed by Jeff Adachi (current SF Public Defender), it addresses and examines the stereotypes of Asian-American males in film.

I only found out about the film on Friday at work. I was in the lunchroom grabbing a yogurt out of the fridge and decided to browse through the Datebook (entertainment) section of the San Francisco Chronicle. When I checked the screen times, only evening times were listed. I didn’t want to be in the Inner Mission during evening hours, so I checked to see if they listed daytime hours. No luck there either.

I really wanted to see this film. Especially since I read that veteran actors Mako and James Shigeta were interviewed for the documentary. So I went to Google, entered “Slanted Screen” and found the website. I already prepared myself to wait for the DVD release. I e-mailed the address listed at the website to let them know to contact me once the DVD became available.

Within 2 minutes of my e-mail, I got a response back. It was from the writer and director himself, Jeff Adachi. WOW. I was talking to a celebrity. He said there were 5 screen times on Saturday and Sunday, which I replied back and asked when they were because we’d make time to go. I also wished him luck on his Q&A Friday night at the Roxie. Jeff replied back again very quickly, and said thanks for the support.

As a film lover, it was great to see so many movie clips during the documentary. Actors such as Sandra Oh, Ming-Na, Tzi Ma, Daniel Dae Kim, and Lucy Liu wouldn’t have the roles they have now if Nancy Kwan, Bruce Lee, Mako and James Shigeta didn’t pave the way for them.

image courtesy of “The Slanted Screen

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Frito bandito

Yesterday I went to Costco to pickup a bag of Tostitos and guacamole for today's Finance department potluck at work. I didn't want to take the bag home and so I left it on the kitchen counter by the toaster and microwave ovens. I kept thinking I should leave the bag in my cubicle. I rationalized that because it wasn't an open bag left on the center table, it wouldn't be considered food for everyone else.

As an "asset protection professional", I should have known better. This morning the bag was gone. I checked the cabinets, hoping someone would have put it away for safekeeping. It only cost me $4 for the chips, but the hassle to drive out to the market and buy another bag is what I was hoping to avoid. Luckily, Cynthia, the Accounts Payable manager, was going to Safeway to buy lettuce and tomatoes and offered to pick up chips for me.

If I find out who you are, I want my $4.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Gently down the stream

Tonight was gym night. Visits to the gym at first were exclusively the treadmill and elliptical. So that I could get some variety in my workouts, I tried out other equipment such as the stationary bicycle and stairmaster. Neither I liked very much.

I tried rowing about 4 months ago and find I really like it. It’s not stressful on the joints as running on the treadmill can be, and I get much more of an overall workout rather than just my lower body. I now find myself not working out so much on the elliptical. This helps avoid exercise burnout and helps me vary my workout routines.

Rowing gave me an excuse to watch on TV (at the gym) the Giants clobber the Astros 14-3. Barry Bonds is still stuck on career home run 713. He’ll break Babe Ruth’s record soon enough, but it’s not pretty. It’s painful to watch him run, especially with Steve Finley beside him in the outfield. Bonds and Finley are about the same age, but such a contrast in their physical conditioning.

Finley already has 7 triples this season. A triple requires someone to run full speed on the bases. Steve does it with ease. Home runs (except inside-the-park) only require a jog and to touch all bases. If you look at photos of Bonds and Finley 15 years ago, Finley looks the same. Bonds, considerably heavier.

Barry’s godfather Willie Mays has to be muttering, “Oh, Barry. Say it ain’t the steroids…”

image courtesy of

Monday, May 15, 2006


It is such a relief to find that we’re finally rid of the rain. Our regular spring/summer weather pattern has returned. Because the temperatures can vary 10 to 20 degrees, I am always clicking the thermometer in my car to check the outside temperature.

When I left the office today, it was 76°F. Driving north on Highway 101 to San Francisco International Airport, it went up to 82°F. I continue north to Highway 280, and this is where I always get the biggest temperature drop. At the Westborough exit in South San Francisco, it drops to 69°F. I drive another 7 miles or so and reach the 19th Avenue/Golden Gate Bridge exit.

It is now 63°F and the fog has come in full force. The temperature dropped a total of 19 degrees on a commute that is a bit over 22 miles. My sunglasses (always on retainers) and air conditioning are now off. The car windows are open. Another reason why I’m still a San Francisco resident. I love fog.

photo courtesy of

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Waiting game

Yesterday I got a message on my voice mail at home from Mark, the loan consultant with Circle Bank in Novato (in Marin county), the lender chosen to finance our condo/TIC unit. He had a few questions about the loan application. Nothing earth shattering.

I called Mark back this morning. He thought it was great that my family is funding most of the down payment. I agreed. Without my family, none of this would be happening. He closed the call telling me that our chances are pretty good that we’ll be able to qualify for the best loan option available for the condo, a 5-year fixed rate with 30-year amortization.

We should have an answer in the next week or so. In the meantime, we still have to wait on when 2 more units will be sold.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Spring sale

I got in yesterday’s mail my REI catalog announcing their big spring sale (20% off most full priced items). Up until now, I have bought something from this sale for at least the past 6 years. I’ve browsed the website for the past hour, and found zilch, zip, nada. Oh, the tragedy of it all.

The closest to anything I want, but don’t need are the Keen Seattle Shoes, a Mary Jane style shoe with the famous Keen front toe bumper. I tried them on about a year ago and really, really liked them. I just forked out tonight a 6-month advance on my gym membership near work and saved myself $20/month.

My life as a mini-Imelda must end. Mortgage payments will soon begin.

image courtesy of

Monday, April 24, 2006


Yesterday, Pauline and I attended a house warming hosted by a former co-worker, Christine Tapia. Chris and I used to work for Josh at Inktomi and e-centives. It had been 3 or 4 years since I last saw her. Things have changed.

The last time I saw Chris, she was living with her boyfriend Nick. Chris now lives with her partner Mandy and they have a son, Jacob. Another former co-worker, Charlotte, was also at the house warming with her husband Jeff and their daughter Isabella. When I last saw Charlotte, she was married to Larry.

After inhaling some yummy food, I popped into the nursery to say hello. Chris introduced me to Charlotte, forgetting that we all worked together. Josh and Amy arrived later. Pauline, Amy, Josh and I grabbed dinner in San Mateo afterwards. Overall, it was a fun evening.

I’ve worked 7 jobs in the 20-plus years I’ve lived in San Francisco (not including temporary assignments or jobs of less than a year). I’ve made numerous friends from these jobs and regretfully have lost touch with some of them. With e-mail now, it’s not as hard to stay in touch.

It’s always great to get together with someone you haven’t seen in awhile.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Words taste good!

As you probably guessed, we’re back in the hunt for a new home. Sherri found out from her accountant the issue that held me back from buying is a non-issue. Family funds are on the way.

Kevin, our real estate agent, sent me 10 listings of interest that I viewed this morning. Five listings were of particular interest to me. Two in the Richmond district, one in the Inner Sunset, one in the Panhandle, and one in Noe Valley. I chose these listings because they meet our minimum requirements. I’m already anxious to see them.

I’ve lived in California for almost 23 years, (half my life) all of them in San Francisco. We know we could get more of a home in the Peninsula and it would decrease our current commute times at least in half. But the snobbery in me wants to retain a SF address and 415 area code.

Rent control has served us well, but I am eager to become a new and proud homeowner.

image courtesy of

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Cranky pants

Today was a shitty day. I lost an hour of sleep due to daylight savings, it rained again for the umpteenth time, the weekend access to the office I was supposed to have last month wasn’t activated, and as it seems to happen at least every other month-end I come in, sales didn’t close.

Despite the workout I got in, I drove almost 50 miles round trip to get absolutely nothing done. I did go to Safeway before going home, only to be aggravated at the middle-aged, overweight blonde female in her big ass Chevy Suburban wait for a car to pull out even though there were at least 5 open parking spaces. This was so she could be 50 feet closer to the entrance.

No wonder Americans are perceived as dumb, fat and lazy.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Damage control at The Sharper Image

As mentioned previously in my blog entry of March 11, a major shareholder, Knightspointe Group, wants to replace the company’s current board of directors due to the huge loss my former employer, The Sharper Image ($22 million currently) incurred this fiscal year. In today’s edition of the Contra Costa Times, the company announced a few cost cutting measures.

Some of them include: eliminating sales commission, executive pay cuts (Richard Thalheimer, founder, chairman and CEO, 50%), and reducing the number of new store openings this year. While the latter two are steps in the right direction, I’m not sure it’s enough. Plus, I think eliminating sales commission won’t sit well among those who lose this incentive. Of course they will be told if you don’t like it, get out. This will also help reduce expenses, but create terrible morale.

My current employer is experiencing similar woes. About 20% of our home office personnel got laid off in January, and numerous others went on to other jobs because they weren’t comfortable with the changes. No wage increases this year. Retail is a very demanding and ever changing business.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Friday, March 24, 2006

American Express One Card

I got in today’s mail my introduction materials for my new American Express One card. I got the actual card last weekend. It’s a brand new card which rebates 1% of all purchases toward an interest-bearing savings account American Express sets up for you (currently at 3.80% APY).

Unlike the Discover card, it isn’t a cash rebate back, but enables a person to save money every time the card is used. Personally, I have been looking for a card of this kind for the past few years. I’m tired of reward programs that only offer merchandise.

To me, a reward program only becomes worthwhile when the points (usually in the 100K + range) can be used toward airfare, vacations, and lodging. People that use their card for business can easily reach this level. Not me. I use the card primarily for personal expenses and usually redeem points at 20K for a cash rebate.

This card is perfect for me because I pay off my balances in full each month. Any unpaid balance is charged interest and can defeat any accumulation of savings. I’ve already used the card to buy gas, groceries and an online purchase. If I want, I can also direct deposit a portion of my paycheck to go into the account.

Annual fee for the One card is waived for the first year, then $35/year. This card isn’t for everyone. On the other hand, if you’d like to apply, go to .

Monday, March 20, 2006

The cost of vanity

I read today in one of the celebrity/entertainment articles that Sarah Jessica Parker had to have her feet digitally enhanced for her role in her latest film, “Failure to Launch”. Apparently, the many years Ms. Parker wore designer stilettos for her role in “Sex in the City” took their toll.

Sorry, but this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. I was never a fan of narrow, tall heels. They’re not comfortable nor do they flatter my large, wide feet. I have no problem spending $150 dollars on a pair of Nike running shoes or Dansko clogs, but never on anything that requires me to walk tiptoed and risk an ankle sprain.

Like I should talk. My own vanity (believing I wore nothing but a women’s 7 ½) has paid its own price. The years I wore shoes that were actually too short created an ugly bunion on my right foot. The bunion doesn’t bother me as long as I wear shoes that fit correctly.


photo courtesy of

Monday, March 13, 2006

World Baseball Classic

Yesterday, after an open house visit in San Francisco’s Outer Richmond, we had a late lunch/early dinner at Thai Café. Once home, changed into lounge attire and turned on the TV to ESPN2 to watch the World Baseball Classic.

If you’re a baseball fan and haven’t heard about the WBC, then you must be on another planet right now. It’s a round-robin tournament of teams from countries such as Puerto Rico, Australia, Mexico, Korea, Japan and of course, the United States. Surprisingly, there are also teams from the Netherlands and South Africa (who recently lost to the U.S. 17-0 and had the mercy rule invoked after 5 innings).

One of the games I watched was Puerto Rico vs. Dominican Republic. On paper, the Dominican Republic has one of the strongest team rosters. Players include Albert Pujols, Adrian Beltre, Moises Alou, and Miguel Tejada. The Puerto Rican team, while not having the same magnitude as DR, had a few of their own name players. Their roster includes: Bernie Williams, Javy Lopez, Carlos Beltran and Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez.

Going into the game, I really didn’t think Puerto Rico had much of a chance. José Cruz Jr., a lifetime .250 hitter in the majors, had 2 critical hits to help Puerto Rico dominate Dominican Republic, 7-1. This is what makes the WBC special for veteran players and baseball fans. The players get in place of spring training a fun and competitive way to prepare for the season the fans can go out to see. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.

With guys like Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey Jr., and Roger Clemens playing for the U.S., how can a baseball fan not watch? I hope it becomes an annual ritual. Play ball!!!

image courtesy of

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Sharper Image woes

Yesterday going into to work, part of my daily ritual is to read e-mail briefs issued by the National Retail Federation (NRF). The first article featured was the headline about my former employer, The Sharper Image. It’s quite big news as it was featured in the New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle.

In the likely event you know nothing about the article, a major shareholder of Sharper, Knightspointe Group, wants to oust the company’s current board of directors. Understandable, considering Sharper has lost $22 million this current fiscal year.

While it has been almost 12 years since I last worked at Sharper, I’m surprised this didn’t happen sooner. During my time there, something like this would have only helped. Even though I was woefully underpaid, the experience I gained there wouldn’t have gotten me to my other retail positions, where I am paid a decent salary.

I won’t say too much more. Josh and I know a lot of good people who still work there. If the proposed move does indeed happen, then they’re going to see many of the changes I’m currently seeing with ownership change at my job.

Good luck.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Snow in San Francisco?

It was a very cold and wet drive home today from work. The temperature gauge in my car read 46°F when I left Foster City. By the time I got home to San Francisco and pulled into my garage, the temperature was 41°F. I’ve been hearing news reports that we may actually get snow at Twin Peaks tonight or tomorrow.

For tomorrow’s commute, I need to be diligent. I’ve been so out of practice with winter driving since I left Ohio many years ago. With all of the rain we’ve had this past week, it’s likely there’ll be black ice out there. While this chilly weather wreaks havoc on this annoying cough & cold, I’ve had numerous opportunities to pull out sweaters I can only wear in this kind of weather.

Oh boy.

photo courtesy of

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Doctor's office, part II

Today I took off early from work to visit my primary care physician. Last night was the 3rd night in a row of wheezing in bed. It got so bad the last 2 nights I ended up in the bathroom with the door shut hacking my lungs out at 3 a.m. I called the doctor’s office as soon as it opened this morning. She was able to squeeze me in just before lunch.

I’ve gone to the doctor’s at least 3 times in the past 5 years with these symptoms. I then get prescribed oral inhalers to last only for the duration of the illness. At least 2 times I remember she told me I had “bronchial spasms” but not asthma. The symptoms would end within 3-4 days.

Because I’ve been to the office 2 times in the past month, she now says I have asthma (like I didn’t already know?!?). It reared its ugly head when I caught the cold. Oh well. I suppose better now than showing up in the ER with an oxygen mask on my face later.

When I left the office, she prescribed me antibiotics (for the infection) and Advair, which is another oral inhaler to take regularly twice a day. I took puffs (sounds like smoking cigarettes) before I left the office and took one dose of the antibiotic when I got home. I check back in next month to see if she needs to adjust the dosage. I also got a peak flow meter to measure lung function to help me monitor my asthma.

Like my weight management, stay tuned.

photo courtesy of

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Credit report & FICO score

I came home from work yesterday and did my usual surfing on the internet. Catch up on news, check e-mail, and browse I peruse the real estate ads daily with the hope someday that we will be able to afford a home in San Francisco. While we both make decent salaries, most housing in SF is well beyond our price range.

While on that train of thought, I decided to run another credit report on myself to see what my current FICO score is. I last ran it about a year and a half ago, which was then in the high 700’s. I was somewhat surprised, but pleased to find my most recent score increased by another 25 points.

I found it interesting that when I entered my social security number and birthdate, Equifax reports my credit history accurately, but lists my birthdate as December 6, 1959. I have somehow aged 6 months. This would be nearly impossible for me to have been born in December because my sister Cindy was born in July of that year. I would have to have been a “preemie” infant.

Being the stickler I am for accuracy, Equifax tells me I can submit a written letter with a copy of my driver’s license to correct the birthdate error. It’s not worth the bother right now. All I care about is that my credit history is correct. The owners of our building have plans to sell in a few months, which may mean we’ll have to move. Then I’ll strongly consider buying and have the mortgage company fix the error.

image courtesy of

Monday, February 27, 2006

It was a dark and stormy night...

As was forecasted, we got quite a bit of rain and wind today. Right now, much of the San Francisco Peninsula (Daly City, South San Francisco, San Carlos, San Bruno) is experiencing a power outage. Winds have been reported up to 70+ mph. While doing laundry this evening, our lights flickered a bit, but we’re OK for now.

Like my commute to and from work in today’s storm, the Monday company meeting didn’t turn out to be as catastrophic as I feared. Just schedule these meetings after month-end close and not on Mondays!

On the other hand, there’s still tomorrow…

image courtesy of

Monday, February 20, 2006

Monday, Monday

Most people had today off for Presidents’ Day. Because I’m in retail, this was another Monday for me at the office. It wasn’t a big deal to be at work. Traffic to and from work was very light. Last Friday, I moved to another cubicle, so it took a conscious effort for me not to walk to where I used to sit.

Since our next holiday won’t be until Memorial Day, I should try to arrange to take a day or two off. I have almost a month’s worth of vacation accumulated. But it’s hard to be off for more than a day because there’s no one to do my work in my absence. Luckily, some of the reports I do were recently automated, which helps a bunch.

I’m not sure what the next few months will hold in store. Our company is undergoing major changes right now. Some days I think we’re really getting somewhere, some days we’re not. I think it's going to get worse before it gets better.

image courtesy of

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Back to the gym

Today was my first trip to the gym in almost 2 weeks. I was fully prepared to take it easy because of my bad cough. I did a lot better than I thought. I did 30 minutes on the treadmill, 10 on the rowing machine and 20 on the elliptical. After the treadmill, I had to fight through a bout of coughing. But this is normal for me in my recovery process.

Once I’m done with the workout, I spend about 5-10 minutes stretching and cooling down. I head to the locker room, and if I’m brave, I’ll weigh myself. I lost about 4 pounds since my last weigh-in. Ultimately, I want to lose a total of 20 pounds. But not torture myself to get there.

I usually go to the gym 4 times a week. I’m one of the few who actually enjoys going. The reasons why many hate the gym are exactly the reasons why I like it so much. I’m in a controlling environment and don’t have to worry about my allergies. I don’t have to worry about rain, heat, wind, uneven terrain, and pedestrians who walk too slowly.

I was never a size 6 and 115 pounds like my sister Cindy is. I love food far too much. One recent modification I have done is to incorporate more salads into my meals. I don’t feel I’m sacrificing much because salads were something I liked anyway.

Updates to follow.

photo courtesy of

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Hey, that voice is familiar!

Animation films over the years have heavily promoted celebrity voices portraying characters. In “Toy Story”, there’s Tom Hanks and Tim Allen. “Shrek 2” had Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and Antonio Banderas. What we don’t hear publicized are the voices that narrate TV and radio ads.

Here are some examples:
Honda – In previous years, we had Burgess Meredith (best known as “The Penguin” from ABC’s “Batman” and Jack Lemmon (“The Odd Couple”). Coincidentially, both Mr. Meredith and Mr. Lemmon starred in "Grumpy Old Men". Recent ads have featured Kevin Spacey (“American Beauty” and “The Usual Suspects”). Mr. Spacey and Mr. Lemmon have appeared together in "Glengarry Glen Ross" and "Dad".

Lowe’s (home improvement retailer) – Gene Hackman, who starred in “Unforgiven”, “The French Connection” and “The Conversation”.

BMW – I’ve only heard her on radio ads, but I know it has to be indy film queen Patricia Clarkson (“The Station Agent” and “Good Night and Good Luck”).

Kaiser Permanente Hospital – These radio ads air primarily in California, but again, the voice has to be Allison Janney of NBC’s “The West Wing”.

Mercedes-Benz – Previous TV ads featured Joe Mantegna. Mr. Mantegna is best known as Will Girardi from the recently cancelled CBS series “Joan of Arcadia” and the voice of recurring character “Fat Tony” on Fox’s “The Simpsons”. He also starred in the stage version of "Glengarry Glen Ross" on Broadway.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Before fame and fortune

Other than my friends Josh and Amy, I am probably one of the few people on earth who reads TV and movie credits. I often find myself watching something on cable I've seen before and now notice earlier work of an actor I didn't recognize when I saw it the first time. There are many film/TV stars today that had humble beginnings, and here are a few examples:

Clive Owen (yes, for the 3rd time, he’s gorgeous)
Mr. Owen appeared in PBS’s “Mystery!” in a mini-series called “Second Sight”. This only caught my attention after first seeing him in “Croupier” a few months earlier. He plays DCI Ross Tanner, a man slowly going blind, yet still has to attend to his crime-solving duties.

Russell Crowe
Before he won his Best Actor Oscar from his role in “Gladiator”, he appeared in TV and films in Australia. Two of those films are “Romper Stomper” and “The Sum of Me”. In his “Romper Stomper” role, he portrays an angry skinhead and in “The Sum of Me”, he is a gay man whose father helps Mr. Crowe’s character find Mr. Right.

Sandra Oh
Most of us know her from “Sideways” as Stephanie and as Dr. Cristina Yang in ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy”. Check her out in a little-known Canadian film called “Double Happiness”. Like many of us 2nd generation Western raised Asians, she lives a life torn between family obligation and maintaining her own identity.

(All references courtesy of

Friday, January 20, 2006

Ang Lee

Work finally has slowed down from the mad holiday rush last month. On the drive to and from the office today, I gave some thought about my next topic. Still in Golden Globe mode after 5 days, Ang Lee, who won Best Director, Drama, for "Brokeback Mountain" came to mind. He has a very impressive filmography both in his native Taiwan and the United States.

From Taiwan, my first viewing of Mr. Lee's films was "Eat Drink Man Woman". The story focused on a father who lived with his 3 adult daughters. The only way he was able to establish any kind of relationship with them was through his cooking. Having grown up in a family restaurant business, I found the movie semi-biographical. What actually attracted me to the film was a TV review and the frequent close-ups of food. I can't sit through this movie without getting hungry.

The other 2 films, "The Wedding Banquet" and "Pushing Hands" are actually earlier releases I saw several years later. Like "Eat Drink Man Woman", the common thread to all these films was an aging father coping with a world changing too fast. "Tortilla Soup" (starring Hector Elizondo and Elizabeth Peña) used the same plot and changed the ethnicity to Latino, but Mr. Lee's film is far superior.

If you're able to get access to it, look for "The Hire: Chosen" from BMW's "The Driver" series (starring the gorgeous Clive Owen). The boy featured in the short film is Mr. Lee's son Mason.

Before "Brokeback Mountain", Mr. Lee also directed:
"The Ice Storm" (Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver, Christina Ricci)
"Sense and Sensibility" (Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant) and while not hugely successful, "Hulk" (Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly).

Don't forget in between "S & S" and "Hulk" there was "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" featuring Asian mega-stars Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh, and Ziyi Zhang.

I look forward to whatever he does next.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

World Premiere

Hello and welcome to my blog! I'm Lani, born and raised in Columbus, OH who has resided in beautiful San Francisco for the last 22 years (now nearly half my life). My current employer is the 4th retail company I've been with now for the past 4 years. I really enjoy what I do, but outside of work, I love seeing and discussing movies. Especially independent films. My other passion is food, and that will be discussed ad nauseum in future postings.

While most of you were probably watching Kiefer Sutherland kick butt on"24" Monday night,  I watched the Golden Globe awards. It isn't as formal as the Academy Awards and there are too many categories. But to me, the informality is what makes this fun to watch.

It was great to see Philip Seymour Hoffman win as Best Actor, Drama, for "Capote". It made me forget that he ever did supporting roles in films such as "Twister", "Boogie Nights" and "Magnolia". The screenplay was written by Dan Futterman, an actor formerly of CBS's "Judging Amy" and an obscure film called "Urbania". Mr. Futterman also made a guest appearance on "Sex and the City" as Charlotte York's potential boyfriend, Stephan (gay or straight?)

The other fascinating connection unknown to most adults watching was the awards for Best Actor and Actress, TV drama. Hugh Laurie, who won for Best Actor in Fox's "House" starred in the "Stuart Little" films with Geena Davis, who won Best Actress in ABC's "Commander-in-Chief".

All of this can also be found at
It is the resource I refer to constantly, and often settles arguments on who was in what film or TV show.