Sunday, December 30, 2007

home from Scottsdale, AZ

Got back late this afternoon from Scottsdale (Phoenix), Arizona. Visits included Scottsdale Fashion Center, Taliesin West, and the Phoenix Zoo. We stayed in Old Town Scottsdale, at the Marriott. Very nice hotel.

I was pretty excited that I booked hotel/car rental/airfare for under $1400 for the two of us. While I think this is still an excellent way to book a vacation, we ended up paying an additional $140 in car rental. $10/day to upgrade from Economy A to Economy B, and then the killer tax and residual fees for about $100.

Weather was sunny, chilly and very dry. Tasty and cheap ethnic restaurants and movie arthouses were nowhere to be found. We tried a Thai restaurant in Old Town, but the dining room was a furnace and walked out.

When I was in NYC in October, I ate Chinese food everyday and when I got back, I didn't eat Chinese for a week. When we got back from Scottsdale, I ordered for dinner Singapore rice noodles for delivery. My love-hate relationship with Chinese food. Can't live with it, can't live without it.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

98% of you need not apply



As it has been the past 3 months, I go online daily to look at job postings. Craigslist.org is a site I peruse daily, focusing on the finance/accounting and business/management listings. Every so often I look at the retail/wholesale and customer service listings.

This past Thursday, a CRM Implementation Analyst posting caught my attention with particular interest. "Implementation" has been a previous job title in my career, so I went to take a look. The duties described what I've done before, but a bit further down into the job requirements was something I found disturbing, "We are looking for someone with an IQ in the top 2% of the population, or better. "

This piqued my curiosty. I went to the link to direct me to their website and then to the job application. Although optional, the application asks you to provide your IQ. There's even a link to a website where a quick IQ test can be taken.

Now the academia in me (a few times straight A's, National Honor Society wannabe, finished in the top 10% in my graduation class) decided to take the test. I'd taken a previous IQ test at Tickle.com. My score was 122, which is considered high intelligence. The IQ test linked from the job application was a mere 107. This is considered average with a 14-15 point deviance. All the more confusing because I'm now either marginally retarded or highly intelligent! The website does tell mention the test is not intended for professional use.

I couldn't let this go. I took 2 more tests (FreeIQtest.net and TestCafe). FreeIQtest.net had me at 131, TestCafe, 107. I found my lower scores came from websites that had a time limit. My inferiority complex of not having scores among the brainy came flooding back.

Back to the job posting. I ended up not applying. I wouldn't want to work for a place where intelligence scores influences one's chances of being employed. I already have to be aware of age discrimination. Now IQ's!

I do not like this trend. No sir, not one bit.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

last minute shopping

As the number of shopping days for the holiday season wind down, I headed to Irving Street and 9th Avenue to pick up some gifts. For me, there are 2 gift stores that are always required stops: Tutti Frutti on 718 Irving Street (near 8th Avenue) and Great Gifts on 1377 9th Avenue (near Judah Street).

Tutti Frutti is a fun, fun store. I always come here for office Secret Santa/gift exchange or White Elephant parties. Whenever Lisa visits, she has to come to Tutti Frutti and always ends up buying out half the store. Items include mini Etch-A-Sketches, Mr. T talking keychains, PEZ dispensers, Wonder Woman and Gumby lunch boxes, and Wallace & Gromit calendars. I rarely see anyone leave the store without a smile on their face.

The other store, Great Gifts, is a wonderful place to buy small personal items such as magnets, jewelry boxes, candles, and small cosmetic bags. They also sell puzzles, kites, toys, extremely cool shower curtains, bath items and household gadgets.

While both places are small and often get cramped with only a few people in the store, most items in the store are no more than $20. For me, it's a very inexpensive way to buy chic/retro/cool gifts from shopkeepers who obviously love being in the neighborhood.

Unless there's a last minute emergency, I'm pretty much wrapped up shopping for the year.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Online service experiences





With all of the online shopping I've been doing recently, the deliveries from UPS and USPS are now coming to me directly and regularly. Ever since I left specific delivery instructions on a post-it a month ago, I'm no longer getting the supposed "missed you" notices I used to get even though I was home.

Today I encountered different experiences with 2 major online retailers, Zappos.com and Red Envelope. I have been ordering from Red Envelope for about the past 4 years. I first knew of them from my dot-com days when they were 911Gifts.com. When they changed their name to Red Envelope, I thought it was an excellent choice, since the name is taken from a long standing Asian tradition. As a child, I got red envelopes regularly on Chinese New Year.

Up until today, I've never had to exchange or return anything at Red Envelope. I bought Lisa's and Michael's wedding gift from there. She told me she read my blog entry from December 4 and graciously asked if it was OK to return my gift. I said of course. So after I got off the phone with Lisa, I went online to Red Envelope to get a Return Authorization Number (Gift Return number to Red Envelope).

The website said to call Customer Service to get the Gift Return number. But when I saw the Chat Online option, I decided to try it. I used it once for an REI order where I mistakenly entered San Diego rather than San Carlos for store pickup. My experience online with the REI rep was quick and pleasant. Got everything wrapped up in less than 10 minutes.

Because this week is reaching critical stage for holiday shopping, I'm willing to cut a bit of slack, but the Chat Online experience at Red Envelope was less than satisfactory. It took about 5 minutes before I got a rep named Mustafa. I immediately wrote that I needed a Gift Return number. It took Mustafa another 5 minutes to tell me I need to be transferred to Whitney. After another 5 minutes, I got Rae Ann instead. When I wrote AGAIN that I need a Gift Return number, Rae Ann told me I needed to CALL customer service. I said OK and closed the chat.

This is what gets me. I call Red Envelope customer service. A person named (I kid you not) Rae Ann answers the phone. I don't understand why I couldn't get the Gift Return number via chat. I went back to the Return + Exchanges policy to see if I erred in reading the instructions. The website does say to call, but it doesn't specifically state that you can't chat.

My other online experience is with mega-shoe purveyor Zappos.com. I've known about them for a few years, but mostly kept my shoe ordering to Nordstrom.com. But when I kept seeing FREE OVERNIGHT shipping everytime I went to the site, it pulled me in. I just returned my Eddie Bauer boots, and last night I decided to try Zappos.com out. It took me awhile before I finally decided on what I wanted as 3 previous pairs of shoes I liked were sold out. Ah, the demands of Christmas.

At 8:04 p.m., I got a confirmation e-mail that my order had been placed. At 11:58 p.m., I got my UPS Overnight tracking number. At 10:30 am this morning, UPS delivered my shoes. Wow, extremely comfy. I am still floored at the FREE OVERNIGHT shipping. ZERO SHIPPING FEE. OVERNIGHT. Even got friendly instructions advising to try on the shoes on carpet to minimize wear so that returns can be made easily.

I wish I was told this when I bought a pair of Ecco loafers at an unnamed shoe store in San Mateo's Hillsdale Mall 3 years ago. I wore them outside for a few minutes. When I realized they didn't fit as I thought, I went back the NEXT day in an attempt to exchange, NOT RETURN them. The store manager bitched that he wouldn't be able to resell the shoes, how expensive they were, etc. I yelled back and told him Nordstrom's located 2 doors down would take the shoes back without the attitude. He finally relented, apologized because he was having a bad day. I ended up exchanging the Eccos for a pair of Dansko clogs I absolutely love. But I will NEVER shop at that store again.

OK Lani, deep breaths now. As a longtime retail finance professional who's talked to hundreds of customers, it's something I get passionate about. While I can't argue about the lack of intelligence and compassion of many sales associates, customers are just as bad. STORES Magazine Executive Editor Susan Reda recently blogged about a recent shopping experience.

I'll stop for tonight. Happy Shopping!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Top 10 Blogging Cities

I read from SFGate's Technology Chronicles Nielsen's top 10 cities for blogging in 2007:
  1. Austin, TX
  2. Portland, OR
  3. SF Bay Area, CA
  4. Seattle, WA
  5. Honolulu, HI
  6. San Diego, CA
  7. Dallas/Fort Worth, TX
  8. Columbus, OH
  9. Nashville, TN
  10. Colorado Springs, CO

My initial thoughts would have the SF Bay Area #1, Austin #2, and Portland in the top 10, but lower, like #6 or #7. For me, the most surprising was to see my birthplace, Columbus, as number 8. I know 24 years is a long time to be away from a city, but I am still astounded by how much Columbus has grown in size and sophistication whenever I now visit.

No kidding. Sizewise (according to Wikipedia), Columbus is the 15th largest city in the United States. Right behind number 14, San Francisco.

Columbus, number 8???????????????????

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

My Cyber Monday


I spent most of Monday online. I spent the first half chatting via e-mail and phone to 2 recruiters about possible job leads. I've talked to so many recruiters in the past 6 months that it's starting to make my head spin. I don't take anything seriously until I hear from the company's hiring manager.

I spent the second half shopping for gifts. I got a good chunk of shopping done. Following in Josh's footsteps, I also updated my wish lists for the holiday. I added yesterday a second wish list from Amazon. I fully agree that wish lists can be construed as arrogant and self-centered. Then again, I think wish lists aren't that much different than wedding registries. I've always loved wedding registries because it takes the guesswork out of what to buy.

So, those of you out there that know me and seek gift ideas, look no further. The links are located on the left side of my blog page. I've tried to keep the list to items that won't break a person's piggy bank, but there are a few that are really "wishes". These are items I'd want to buy once I get back to work.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Online Crosswords

Having completed a second month without work, I'm spending a lot more time online. To keep myself occupied while waiting for job updates or recruiter e-mails, I do crossword puzzles online.

I currently do 3 crosswords at USA Today, WebCrosswords.com, and the Los Angeles Times. I chose these 3 because they are all in the same format (edited by Timothy Parker). If I choose the "regular skill" format, the puzzle will highlight letters in red if they aren't correct.

While this isn't the bonafide way to do a crossword puzzle, my ultimate goal is to see how quickly I can complete the puzzle. On average, it takes me about 20 to 25 minutes. I love it on Sundays when the LA Times features a total of 3 puzzles: Daily, Magazine and Calendar Sunday. Magazine and Calendar Sunday are the hard ones. It usually takes me about 45 to 50 minutes to complete them.

I bet you're wondering if I've tried the New York Times crosswords. No, I haven't. First of all, they're really hard. I'm not at that skill level. Second, they're only available offline. I did try online puzzles that were published 2-5 years ago. Still too hard.

This is a good way to kill time, but like I said about not working on Black Friday, I don't want this to be permanent. I look forward to the day I won't have time to do puzzles.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Perfecting Imperfections

Today's blog from Tara Parker-Pope located in the Health section of the New York Times discusses the problems many women have finding the right fit in jeans. As a recent purchaser of a different cut and smaller size of Levi's, I can totally relate. The blog references 2 websites one can go to for help in finding the right fit based on size, weight and personal preferences in clothing type.

One of the websites, zafu.com, requires you to answer a series of questions which should take about 3 minutes. I did this for finding jeans and bras. I wanted to find out if what I currently own was listed among their selections. For jeans (Levi's 550 Relaxed Bootcut Stretch) and bras (Bali double support, no wire), they were both listed in the results in the sizes I currently wear, however they were listed as "well fit" as opposed to "very well fit".

It was good to know I was on the right track and not delusional, as many women seem to be. Particularly those who have been chosen for TLC's "What Not To Wear". The only issue I had was knowing in jeans what my true body shape was. My first results yielded styles I've tried on in the past and didn't like the feel and fit. It took me 2 more tries before I felt the results were reliable.

The key to taking the survey is to be honest with yourself. If you aren't, the survey will yield inaccurate results and you're back to square one, uncomfortable, ill-fitting clothes. This is especially important for women because finding appropriate and well-fitting clothes isn't easy. It's any wonder why so many women have poor self-images of their bodies.

BTW, guys, zafu.com has a section for you.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

San Francisco Auto Show




Yesterday, I tagged along with Amy, Josh, Fran (Amy's big sis) and Jeremy (Fran's son) to the San Francisco Autoshow at Moscone Center. This is the fourth show I've attended and it's always fun to imagine what life would be like in a new, cool car.

The pictures shown above are (taken with my cameraphone) views of the new BMW 1-Series. Specifically, the 135i model. It won't be available in the United States until early 2008. It will likely be available only in a 2-door model. If it becomes available in a 4-door sedan, it might very well be my next car. But I'm on my second 3-series (318ti and now 325i) and will likely stay with this series when I'm ready to buy another car.

Whatever BMW it is, it must have a stick-shift transmission. Even if I have to special order it again.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Black Friday online shopping

This past week, I went out to Mervyns to buy some new Levi's. I've been a dedicated Levi's wearer since high school. They're durable, never go out of style, and most of all, it's the brand everyone knows. My current stock have gotten baggy and needed to get new ones in a smaller size (yeah, baby!).

I usually buy Levi's 550's Tapered Leg, relaxed fit. This time I bought Levi's 550, Bootcut, relaxed fit. Man, what a difference. With a bit of stretch (I no longer buy jeans without it), the slight flare at the end, and one size smaller, they looked so much better on me. I bought 2 pair and probably would have bought more had I been able to find them in other denim shades.

This morning, I decided to buy 2 more online. I could have gone back out to Mervyns in another location, but because it's officially the holiday season, I tend to steer clear of stores and malls unless it's absolutely necessary.

I first went to Sears. I had already been there the past 2 days after seeing free shipping. I couldn't pull the trigger. I'd put in, then remove the items from the shopping cart. Today I was ready. It was totally cool when they took off $10, but once I entered my billing address, the site froze. After 10 minutes, I gave up and closed the browser window. I just went there a few minutes ago and they're now completely down.

Next, I went to Kohl's. My last purchase of Levi's came from them. I didn't see free shipping, but thought maybe I'd see something discounted once I put the items in the cart. Once I saw $8 in shipping, I removed the items from the cart and abandoned the order.

Now, the third retailer I know that sells Levi's online at a decent price is JC Penney. They have free shipping, no minimum purchase required from now until 11/26. I would have saved the most at Sears, but the site is down. Even though JCP's Levi's are $2 more than Kohl's, I'd still be spending less at JCP because of free shipping.

This was my first time shopping online on Black Friday. Cyber Monday is in 2 days. It'll be interesting to see what major websites choke under the massive amounts of traffic.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Girl Crushes

As an avid film viewer, I see a lot of movies. Among friends, I love it when we've seen the same movie and we recite/discuss dialog in pivotal scenes. Like any typical movie fan, I have my favorites, particularly men. In my younger days, it was Robert Redford and Harrison Ford. These days, it's Clive Owen and George Clooney.

Up until the last decade, it was very hard for me to find female actors in the same way. Probably because much more complex, strong and intelligent roles are more prevalent for women now. Plus, the majority of films we go out to see are independent or foreign films. My personal favorites, a.k.a. "girl crushes" are all huge stars in their native homeland. Not really surprising for me, my list has no Americans. One is British, two are European and the other two, Asian.

Helen Mirren

Recent recipient of an Academy Award for her role in "The Queen", Ms. Mirren is the most well-known of my girl crushes. She got my respect as no-holds-barred/balls-busting cop Jane Tennison in the "Prime Suspect" series. According to imdb.com, she's played a queen 5 other times, so that should say something about her portrayals of command and authority. She has an impressive résumé of work.

Maggie Cheung

One of the most well-known film actors in Hong Kong cinema, she's starred in movies with fellow heavyweights Chow Yun-Fat, Tony Leung and Jackie Chan. Her first roles started out as the typical eye candy/supporting girlfriend roles, but lead to meatier roles as she got older. She first got my attention when she did "In The Mood For Love" with Tony Leung, looking fabulous in her chong-sams. Floored me when I saw her last night as a recovering drug addict on Comcast's On Demand in "Clean". Made me jealous when she spoke fluently 3 languages (English, French and Cantonese) throughout the film.

Juliette Binoche

Nicknamed "La Binoche" in her native France, I first saw her in "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" and "Bleu". It was awesome when she crossed over into English-language films, which for me was seeing her in "The English Patient". She didn't do too badly, as she received an Academy Award in a supporting role. She is probably best known to American audiences in the film "Chocolat". Ms. Binoche's latest American film is "Dan In Real Life" co-starring Steve Carell and MLB's World Series spokesman Dane Clark.

Lena Olin

A native of Sweden, I first saw her in the same film as Ms. Binoche, "The Unbearable Lightness of Being", and again in a smaller role in "Chocolat". Ms. Olin has gotten considerable exposure in TV, particularly as Jennifer Garner's kick-ass mom in "Alias". While she was not always the good girl, never, ever mistake her for being weak or complacent.

Michelle Yeoh
While I've seen her in only 2 films, "Tomorrow Never Dies" and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", she got to show off her martial arts skills both times. She is Ms. Cheung's co-star in "The Soong Sisters", which I haven't seen but should put in my Netflix queue. Like Ms. Olin, she looks great when she's fighting bad guys (or girls, as the case may be). I'd like to her see venture out into more independent projects. To see more of her as a real person, like someone we know among our family and friends.
Cate Blanchett, Judi Dench and Kate Winslet should be on this list, but to me, their work already gets considerable recognition. I consider Naomi Watts, Renée Zellweger, and Natalie Portman on my list of Honorable Mentions, but I'd like to see what role choices they make when they're a bit older.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Peda Bella Toe Toppers


Yeah, yeah, Lani's on a rampage about feet again. Well, this time it was the other end of the spectrum regarding comfortable shoes.

This morning I had an interview with another recruiting firm. It was a great chance to debut one of my new suits with new shoes. I like wearing business suits when I'm downtown. I feel like a real career professional. Even more comfortable now because I don't have to wear panty hose.

Let's just say the new shoes weren't as comfortable as the Privo Spangles. While I walked more than what I would have had I driven to the Peninsula, it was no more than a mere stroll in downtown San Francisco.

When I left the house this morning, I walked with no problem 2 blocks to MUNI Metro to catch the N-Judah. By the time I finished my interview with the recruiter and walked 4 blocks to meet Josh for lunch, the sides of my feet were getting rubbed raw. When I got off the streetcar, I ended up peeling off the shoes the last half-block and walked barefoot because the blisters were killing me. While in pain, I recalled receiving a catalog that sold socks specifically for clogs and mules (as seen in above picture).

I found the website, but didn't want to get another online store added to my already endless supply of catalogs. The website sells the socks through Amazon.com. I ended up buying them there. Hopefully, these will be a big help the next time I wear the shoes.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Privo Spangle


Today after my workout, I headed to Sports Basement to replenish my supply of energy gel. It was a very short drive to get from the YMCA to Sports Basement so it made running the errand extremely painless.

But, as it always is whenever I visit REI or Sports Basement, I end up buying more than I intend to. The great part about Sports Basement is that most of their merchandise is at outlet prices, so the guilt isn't as painful.

I ended up buying the Privo (a division of Clarks) Spangle, exactly as depicted in the picture shown. Really, I didn't intend to buy the shoes. But once I tried them on, saw how great they looked and felt of what few were remaining, the Imelda in me screamed that I had to get them.

I was in for a pleasant surprise when I got to the checkout counter. The salesperson noticed my VISA was issued by AAA and members get a 10% discount. Woo-hoo! Once I got home, I purposely picked out clothes to go with the shoes so that I could wear them to dinner with Josh and Amy.

While I didn't need the shoes, how does anyone pass up a $12 reduction + plus 10% discount off a pair of comfy, cute shoes?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Presidio YMCA/Arc Trainer


This past week, I joined the Presidio YMCA gym. Prior to my layoff from work, I would workout twice a week at the Foster City Athletic Club and on weekends at USF's Koret Center (total 4 times a week).

Since my layoff, I cancelled my membership at Foster City Athletic Club and started going to USF's Koret Center exclusively. Problem with the Koret Center is that I was only eligible for "Red" membership. Which means my hours to visit Monday through Friday are from 6 a.m to 2 p.m. I would have to be a student, faculty, alumni or neighborhood resident to visit without restricted hours. Parking wasn't exactly convenient since the lot permits only free public parking on Sundays. I got a hefty $50 ticket last year to prove their point.

It also doesn't help that sleeping in now until 9 and not being conscious until 10 leaves me only a 4-hour window to workout. Which means if I want to have lunch or use that time for shopping, errands, or interviews, I would have to give up the workout. Bottom line, I don't have much schedule flexibility if I continue going to USF.

After a ton of online research, I found out through many favorable reviews on Yelp that the gym most suitable (distance, cost, and quality) for me was the Presidio YMCA at the Main Gate in the Presidio. I drove over Monday afternoon to check it out. While the locker room isn't very large, and the outside of the building is non-descript, it's a great gym. Fee is only $60/month. If you live or work in the Presidio, it's $45/month, which to me is extremely reasonable.

First and most importantly, the place is very, very clean. Another great perk is the free towel service. LOTS of free parking. All of the equipment is brand spanking new. And, something neither Foster City or USF have, an arc trainer. I tried it out for the first time today and really like it. It works in a similar fashion to an elliptical machine. The major difference is the arc versus elliptical motion. I find the arc motion less stressful on the knees and provides a great all around workout. It feels like the same sweat storm I get on the treadmill.

If my next job lands me back in San Francisco, then it's likely I'll keep the YMCA membership, as it stays open until 10 p.m during the week. If I end up anywhere else outside SF, then I'll look for something close to work. I'm being intentionally cryptic, but based on recent events with my job hunt, things are leaning on staying in SF.

Monday, October 29, 2007

CushTop by Belkin



This past weekend, the lap desk (for my laptop) I've had for about 7 years started leaving behind filler on the couch and the rug. I'm pretty sure I know what I did to cause the problem.

Regardless, it was time for something new. I originally looked at lap desks at Levenger, Stacks & Stacks, and Amazon. Most of what I saw was flimsy, uncomfortable, too big or too expensive.

I then decided to head out to the nearest major office supply store Sunday afternoon, which is Office Max on Arguello Boulevard in the Inner Richmond district. I went over to where laptop storage and cases were and found exactly what I wanted, Belkin's "CushTop" (as seen in photo).

The CushTop is washable and made of microfiber. The gap in the center can accommodate a mouse and battery pack. Most importantly, it's a sturdy, straight surface where the cushion absorbs heat from the laptop. It is primarily designed for non-desk use such as a chair, couch or bed. For me, it's the couch. I bought the CushTop in chocolate.

I paid about $32 (including tax) for the padded top. Computer superstore places like PC Universe sell it considerably cheaper, but for me, I didn't want to wait. Plus, UPS delivery to my home address is spotty at best. Last week, UPS left me a delivery note last week for my shipment from Sears. They said they would redeliver the next day.

I stayed home all day to wait for the package and no one came by nor did I get any notice. When I went online to find out the status, the driver claimed he tried to redeliver and said I authorized the shipment to be left at the local UPS office. Liar, liar pants on fire.

But I digress. I really like my CushTop. It's much more stable than my previous lap desk, it's light, and most importantly, I can put it away in my storage cube without worrying about filler falling out.

photo courtesy of Belkin

Saturday, October 27, 2007

words misspelled or used incorrectly

I am far from being a grammar freak. Perhaps because I'm spending more time online due to my job hunt it's getting increasingly annoying for me to see words misspelled or used incorrectly.

Some common examples:
The present tense of "lost" is "LOSE". Not LOOSE. I don't understand why this is so common, especially since "lose" isn't even pronounced the same way as "loose".

The incorrect use of "your" when it should be "you're" or vice-versa. Get a clue. A word with an apostrophe means it's been shortened from the full phrase. "Your" is a pronoun, like your car, your clothes. "You're" is shortened from "you are".

Same with "there" and "they're". There she goes. There's the bus. "They're" is shortened from "they are". After typing or writing "they're" in a sentence, repeat the same sentence using "they are". They're moving next month. They are moving next month.

The word "receive" is NOT spelled "recieve". Give me a break. Use YOUR spell checker here. I've seen far too many craigslist.org job listings misspell this word. It would make me think twice about applying to an opening with a misspelled job title.

Oh, and one that really annoys me. "Alot" is NOT one word! It is "A LOT". Geez, I almost hyperventilated on that one. Is there a brown paper bag handy?

I realize for many of us spelling and grammar in school were not fun subjects. For me, it is something I probably worked harder at than most people because my parents are not native English speakers. But if you want to be taken seriously anymore these days, choose your words correctly!!!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Unemployment, week 4

It has been a full 4 weeks since my layoff. In reality, it hasn't been that long. Like my first layoff in 1994, I knew about it months in advance and began looking before the actual layoff. I ended up finding a job I really liked, which I hope will be the case this time around.

While I have a generous severance and got my first unemployment check today, being out of work is not comfortable for me. Shoot me, but since I've been out of work, weekends have become inconvenient because it means I have to wait 2 days before anyone will look at my résumé.

So far, the search has been pretty much what I expected. I get at least 1 to 2 e-mails a day from recruiters sending me job opportunities. However, same old story. They're not the right fit. This past week, 2 recruiters tried to get me contract positions. One in Silicon Valley for a well-known high tech company, the other a growing retailer in Half Moon Bay. As I haven't heard back and it's now Friday, these positions likely are now filled. Which is fine, as my ultimate goal is to find something full-time, salaried and permanent.

I also have something else in the works with another company. Unlike most recruiters that have contacted me, this one is directly employed for a well-known retailer. It is located in the San Francisco Bay Area, and the commute wouldn't be far, but I don't want to say anything more specific for fear of jinxing any chance I have of getting an interview. The described work would be the perfect progression in my longtime retail finance career.

The third and last professional business suit I bought on sale arrived today. The alterations on my second suit will be ready on Monday, at which time the blazer that came today will be dropped off to be altered. No, it won't be the arsenal of suits I used to rotate in the mid 80's, nor would I want it that way. I already have more than enough non-suited corporate attire in my wardrobe now.

Just get me back out there to interview again. I'm ready to go.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Rookie vs. Veteran

So far, I've been on 2 interviews since being laid off 2 weeks ago. One company thought I had too much traditional finance experience, the other too little (in other words, I didn't have an accounting or finance degree). It's still early, but so far, I already know finding the right job will be a battle.

There was a job opening yesterday for an unnamed San Francisco company looking for a Treasury Staff Accountant. I think this is the position a recruiter called me about on Monday. But the posting came from another firm, the same one that had me set up for an interview last week in Redwood Shores.

Everything in the job requirements are tasks I've done in my most recent position. What concerned me though, was that they encouraged recent college graduates to apply. The high range of compensation was only $1K less per year than what I was currently making, so I forwarded the listing to my recruiter to see if her associate would put my name in as a candidate.

My recruiter e-mailed me back 2 hours later to tell me her associate didn't think I was a fit. I'll try not to take it personally, but it was very apparent the company and/or the recruiter wanted to go with young and inexperienced. Because I know there are VERY FEW recent college graduates that would have had experience in ALL of the job requirements for this position.

I don't get it. I could have walked into the job with very little training and still make about the same salary as my old job. To me, to hire someone they won't have to spend much time training is well worth the additional $10K/year. Maybe they want someone young and eager and won't complain about working long hours.

Their loss. They don't know me.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

"Virgin" experience with JetBlue

As mentioned last week, my trip to New York was on JetBlue, my first flight with them. Josh flies them frequently and really likes them. I did find the passengers at JFK vastly different from the passengers at SFO.

My initial experience was not exactly pleasant. While JetBlue flights are domestic, they are located in the International Terminal at SFO. When I got to the gate, they had 3 kiosks at the check-in gate, but only one was working, and sporadically at that. Whenever I now fly, I almost always have carry-on and don't check in luggage. But because I couldn't use the kiosk, I had to wait in line with the other passengers doing the standard, painstakingly slow process of checking in with an agent. This took 30 minutes.

Once I got the friggin' boarding pass, I then had to go up one escalator, walk across to the domestic terminal and then down another escalator to get to the actual gate. The good part is there's no first class, no frequent fliers that get called first for priority boarding. The people that get called first are those who need extra time, then it's all rows boarding. Because I had to wait so long for my boarding pass, everyone that was waiting had already boarded so I didn't have to stand in line.

Then to my seat. Ahhhh....considerable leg room. Got my headphones, plugged in and started watching TV. When we flew Virgin Atlantic non-stop to London in 2003, we got complimentary headphones and a huge selection of movies. I saw 3 movies on an 8 hour flight and it really helped pass the time.

With a 5+ hour flight to NYC, the same thing. I usually sleep at least half the time, but with the headsets, I spent most of the flight watching the Food Network and HGTV. Same thing on the way back, except I was blubbering (I blame it on recirculated air) through most of "Love, Actually" on USA, a 2003 British holiday film (wow, same year we were there) . The other great part about JetBlue was that they were very good with replenishing beverages. I got 2 snacks, which is a luxury in coach class these days.

Perhaps it is because I live in such a tech-savvy area, but when I was at SFO, at least 3 people had no problem trying the kiosk even after the screen said it was down. This morning at JFK, a group of 3 women had a printout with their kiosk check-in barcode, but was surprised they never used a kiosk before. I let them watch me and then offered to help them. They picked it up very quickly and thanked me.

After I made it through security, a woman was standing in front of me looking a bit lost. Her husband was wondering why she hadn't yet gathered her belongings. She said, "I'm too nervous. I'm afraid I'll lose everything!" I'm guessing she had valuables on her that she put in the trays and felt everyone around her was going too fast. But we've had this kind of security check since 9-11-2001 and I would have thought she'd know the drill by now.

I then proceeded to the food court to grab a quick breakfast. A woman kept staring at the warming trays and asked if they could make her an omelette with egg whites only. Sorry, sweetie, but this wasn't exactly a full service restaurant. I didn't see omelettes as a menu item. Another woman was with her son and he wanted the fruit cup. She asked the counterperson how much it cost. When told how much, she told her son it was too expensive. Granted, airport food is not cheap, but you couldn't splurge $1.95? I'd be grateful he wasn't begging for Cinnabon! It was apparent that none of these people fly much.

Oh, well. I've never traveled much on business, but I guess I do fly often enough to look like a seasoned traveler. And I will fly JetBlue again.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

manual vs. automatic


In today's New York Times Automobile section, writer Richard Chang wanted to find out from readers whether or not driving a stick-shift (manual) transmission car was considered a life skill. For me, it is. To most people who drive in the United States, it isn't.

Up until I moved to California, I only knew how to drive an automatic. My cousin Wilgee's first car was a Lancia (don't remember the model type) and I was jealous that he already learned to drive stick-shift. Determined to learn, I got my first chance when a co-worker graciously agreed to take me out in her Honda Civic in the back parking lot of Tanforan Mall in San Bruno over 20 years ago.

With only that afternoon as my experience in stick-shift driving, I bought my first manual transmission car, an Acura Integra, less than a year later. The salesman had to drive my car home. For the next month, I went out every night to practice. It took me about 3 weeks before I considered myself proficient enough to drive to any part of San Francisco.

I haven't gone back to an automatic transmission car since. I'm on my fourth manual transmission car and plan on driving them until I physically am no longer able. Sure, there's the control that everyone talks about. But for me, it's just a lot more fun. The coordination of clutch pedal, shifting and accelerating takes skill and is something I can boastfully say I've mastered.

image courtesy of BMW

Monday, October 01, 2007

No more envelopes!


Since I visit a Wells Fargo ATM just once a month to deposit our HOA checks, this is a feature you may have already seen and used. This morning I visited the Wells Fargo ATM location on Irving Street and 8th Avenue. The cool new feature at the ATM is that you can now deposit up to 30 checks without envelopes.

Once the scan is complete, the ATM gives you the option of printing the receipt with the image, without the image, or no receipt at all. Since this was the first time, it should have been easy enough for me to scan the 3 checks I had all at the same time. Instead, I scanned them one at a time and got 3 separate receipts.

The best part of this feature is that it eliminates the hassle of pulling an envelope and having to fill out the necessary information while the machine is waiting anxiously with its annoying beeps for you to send the envelope through the slot. If it took you too long to get the envelope ready, the machine would ask you if you needed more time, but for me, I found the machine would end up cancelling the transaction and I would have to start all over again.

With this new feature, no more. I would love to see this feature at my credit union, but it's likely I won't see it anytime soon.


photo courtesy of sfgate.com

Saturday, September 29, 2007

So long, I enjoyed working with you...


Yesterday was my last day at work. I got my retention and unused vacation paychecks around 1:30. At 5, about 35 of us gathered at El Torito's on the Foster City-San Mateo border to say farewell. My severance check will be mailed once I sign a document acknowledging my agreement to the terms of my layoff.

The gals in the picture are (left to right): Irma Ochoa (Executive Assistant), Theresa Dychioco (Accounts Payable Clerk), yours truly (Loss Prevention Finance Analyst), and Leticia (Letty) Molina (Payroll Processor).

The gathering was a lot of fun. I stayed until about 8. We started out with 3 tables and expanded to the point there we only left 4-5 open for other patrons. When I first started work, I thought the work group was a bit cliquish. I often found myself not wanting to join the same people that would gather in the kitchen at lunch everyday.

But most of those people left to go to pursue other opportunities. The ones that stayed on are those that stayed to the end. And these are the folks I admire, respect and didn't mind hanging out with them for potluck or lunch.

This past week was rather exhausting. Training my replacement Michelle, waiting for the last day to arrive, cleaning out my cubicle, e-mailing and calling my internal and external contacts to say goodbye, and waiting to hear when I would be scheduled for my interview for a potential new job. I finally got that confirmation late Thursday afternoon. I e-mailed them back my availability (free and clear!!!). I go in Monday, October 1 (the anniversary date of the job I just ended) at 2 p.m.

Next Saturday, I fly to New York for Mom's birthday. We'll see how this goes. Wish me luck on my interview Monday.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Drexel Theatre



"Bringing Hollywood Boulevard to Main Street" is a New York Times article (September 23, 2007) by Dan Berry featuring the Drexel Theatre in Bexley (Columbus), Ohio. The theatre's actual address is 2254 East Main Street.

I grew up in Whitehall, the next town east of Bexley. I first saw "Singin' in the Rain" in full length at the Drexel. At another movie art house in Columbus, the Ohio Theatre, was where I saw "The General", my first silent film. I saw both films when I was a student at Ohio State. The unforgettable experiences from these films enabled me to widen my interest beyond the typical Hollywood blockbusters.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, the theatres I have visited that favorably compare to the Drexel and Ohio Theatres are the Stanford Theatre in Palo Alto, the Castro (in SF's Castro district), and the Bridge (in SF's Inner Richmond district). If I ever won the lottery, I'd love to donate a bit of my excess cash to theatre restoration. I consider these type of theatres a destination and a pleasurable diversion from the real world.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

upcoming trip to NYC


When I called Dad for his birthday last week, the first question he asked me was, "When are you coming to New York?" I told him with my job situation I didn't know.

Two nights later, that question was still a thorn in my side. Number 1 - I hadn't been to New York in 2 years. My last visit was Dad's 70th birthday party. The party ultimately got cancelled, but I decided to come out anyway. Number 2 - My job is ending this week, I have no excuse not to go. Number 3 - weather in NYC will be cooler and not stinking hot as it is in the summer. And something I didn't really think much about, probably because my job hunt is predominating everything else, number 4 - Mom's 70th birthday is coming up.

Once I finally put these pieces together, duh, Lani, make the stupid reservation! The revelation came to me about 11:45 p.m., already past bedtime, but I was determined to complete the task. Otherwise, I wouldn't have been able to sleep anyway. I first went to United. Off-peak season, thought it would be under $400. At the time I searched, it was just under $500. NO. Then went to Virgin America. Much better, but about $370 for coach/economy class. Keep it under consideration and compare this against JetBlue.

I then went to the JetBlue website, and now that they have flights out of SFO, it was definitely something to check out. I was able to get a direct flight from SFO to JFK just under $340. Booked the flight immediately. This will be my first flight on JetBlue. Josh flies them all the time and really likes them. I'll see.

One major difference is that rather than take a flat fare cab ride for $40+, JetBlue recommends taking the subway because of all of the construction currently going on at JFK. I'll catch the AirTrain shuttle from the airport to the Howard Beach subway terminal (picture on this blog entry is taken from our shower curtain depicting map of the NY subway system!). I'll take the A train through Brooklyn and into Manhattan and exit at Chambers and Church. Sherman lives about 4-5 blocks from this station.

Hopefully it won't rain. It won't be fun pulling luggage (carry-on only!) across wet pavement. But I am looking forward to seeing Sherman's place. The last time I was there, he had just moved in and the place was only about 60% completed. Cindy and I had to sleep on an Aerobed and maneuver around boxes. I'll also make it a point to make at least one meal in his snazzy kitchen.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Rather than bog myself down this evening with another job surfing expedition, I'll talk a bit about Dad. Today is his 72nd birthday. He's the only one among my immediate family that I haven't blogged about. Probably because of the language barrier we have. My command of Cantonese is poorer than his in English. We may not have ever had long meaningful conversations, but as a kid, he did his best to be a good father.

When my brother Sherman played baseball and me with softball, he would make an effort to come to see us play at the park at least a few times a season, sometimes with our dog Sil-Sil in tow. He played catch with Sherman in the backyard up until Sherman was about 10, as Sherman's hard throws made Dad's hand sting. He once came to one of my high school basketball games and let me invite the coaches and their husbands to dinner at the restaurant after the game.

In the summer months, the Guertals used to clean their next door neighbor's pool, which was next to our backyard. When Mr. Guertal finished cleaning the pool and the chlorine dissipated, we'd go swimming. While it was Mr. Guertal who taught me how to swim, it was Dad that would come over as the overgrown kid. He loved to throw us into the pool or challenge us to a race.

If we didn't go swimming, then he'd take us bowling late Sunday nights and meet up with staff from the restaurant. Dad had his own bowling ball and shirt with our restaurant's name on it. We often bowled so late we'd go to out breakfast afterwards. He even sponsored Sherman's American Legion baseball team while Sherman was in high school. It was a sight to see a predominantly Caucasian team wearing baseball shirts reading "Jong Mea" (including Chinese characters) as the uniform's logo.

After Dad got off work at 4 a.m., he'd read in the family room for many hours before finally retiring to go to bed. He'd often make noodles or rice with enough for us to share, so it was awesome to have what I considered breakfast. If he wasn't reading, he often had friends and restaurant staff over for cards or mah-jongg. Strewn boxes of White Castle burgers and ashtrays full of cigarette butts were all over the family room. When Dad and his buddies got together, they made college fraternity parties look like afternoon tea.

From elementary school age into our early teens, Sundays became family nights out. Dinner and a movie, usually an action flick. One of the first drive-in movies I saw was Ian Fleming's "Thunderball". But no dinner and movie if Mom didn't want to go. By the time I was a student at Ohio State, summer on Thursdays was a prime rib dinner and harness racing at Scioto Downs. I was never much of a gambler, but Dad would often give me $20 as an incentive to place a bet. Cindy was much better at winning than I ever was.

Dad may not know much English and is probably better at partying than parenting. But I also know there aren't many that can brag about bowling with Dad at 2 a.m.

Monday, September 10, 2007

More recruiters

This past weekend, I registered and put my resumé up at CareerBuilder.com. I also have resumés posted at Yahoo! Hot Jobs and Monster. Because my job is officially ending September 28, I am trying to cast the widest net possible to let the online world know I am looking for a job.

So far, I seem to be rather popular. From my last blog entry about job hunting, I have heard from at least 15 companies, mostly recruiting firms. And mostly for jobs I don't want (financial planning and insurance sales).

This morning, I got an e-mail from an out-of-state recruiter that wanted me to call if I was still interested in looking for new career opportunities. She told me she thought there a few jobs where I would be a good fit. I replied back and said I'd like to get the job descriptions before I made a decision. It was quite clear she didn't read my resumé because she said there were too many listings nationwide for her to determine where I would be a suitable match until she talked to me first. I told her unless I get job descriptions from the SF area, I wasn't interested. It pains me to have to refrain from what I really wanted to say to her.

Around 4 p.m. today, another recruiter from a well-known financial planning site called my cell phone. I told her I'm familiar with the company, said thank you, but not interested. Then about 4:30, a local recruiter called. He's from a search firm that placed me 14 years ago. I knew he read my resumé when he asked if his company placed me at Gymboree (it was actually Unocal).

We got to the nitty-gritty within 5 minutes: he asked what jobs I want and don't want, what is my current and desired salary. He wanted to meet, but knew my being in Foster City might be tough to get into the city. I told him I have an appointment in SF with one of his competitors on Thursday. He had no problem with me stopping by afterwards. Luckily, both firms are only a few blocks from each other. So I have 2 appointments this Thursday.

Again, it's nice to be wanted. I wish I had this kind of popularity when I was dating!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Jong Mea Restaurant, June 1982

This is the front of Jong Mea Restaurant, located in Columbus, OH at 747 East Broad Street. The restaurant first opened in 1951. This was taken on our graduation day from Ohio State in 1982.

From left to right: founder and paternal grandfather, Irving Chin, grandmother Virginia, my sister Cindy, yours truly, my mother, Susan, and my father, Hank. My grandfather passed away last year.

While the restaurant is no longer around, this is for those of you who did eat there at one time or another. I hope seeing the picture will bring back fond memories of your visits there.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

To Live and Fly to L.A., part 2

This past April, I blogged about a trip to Los Angeles to testify at a hearing. The hearing went to trial this past week. I flew out to LAX Thursday afternoon, courtesy of the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office. I got home today around noon. I could have flown out Friday night. But because my testimony is the basis for most of the case, I knew I'd be in court all day and didn't want to stress out about catching a flight back like I did in April. The DA's office had no problem having me stay until Saturday.

Although I wasn't outside much, the weather in Los Angeles was hot and sticky. Thursday and Friday evenings did cool down to a comfortable temperature. Knowing fully well this trip was on the city, any luxury or frills would be few or non-existent. I was right.

On the flight from SFO, my seat assignment was in the aisle seat of the very LAST row of the plane. Not so bad when you have to use the facilities. And not so bad had I been permitted to board the plane first. But my seating group was the last one called. By the time I got to my seat, all the overhead bins were full, so I had to reverse back 10 rows to find the nearest available bin to store my carry-on suitcase, apologizing profusely to everyone I bumped into.

When I got off the plane, I was instructed to call the hotel to have their shuttle pick me up. The hotel was only 5 minutes from the airport. I waited in the Hotel Shuttle pick up area at LAX for nearly an hour before the shuttle van spotted me. The first shuttle came about 15 minutes after I called the hotel, but drove right past me. When I finally got to the hotel, the reservation had me listed to stay only 1 night and not 2. They told me I needed to contact the DA's office to correct the mistake. I did get meal vouchers for dinner and breakfast at the hotel.

The room I stayed in was so-so. Bathroom fixtures needed serious updating. The pipes leaked a bit and I had to put a towel on the floor. I know I've moved up in the world when the last 2 hotels I've stayed in, the bathrooms aren't as nice as my bathroom at home. The restaurant staff was nice, but it was really an overpriced Denny's. When I went there to have dinner Friday night, on the lighted board listing the specials read, DINNER: Peper Steak. SOUP: Clams Chawder. I wanted so much to take a picture with my cell phone, but it wouldn't have shown up with the dim lighting in the restaurant.

I was scheduled to be at the courthouse by 9 a.m. Friday morning and begin providing testimony at 10:30. I was instructed to arrange with the hotel to have their shuttle drop me off at the courthouse (only 3 minutes away). When I asked, they told me the shuttle only drives to and from the airport. After I told them I'll miss my court appearance, they relented a bit and said the driver would take me if he didn't have any passengers to take to the airport. They told me to make sure it was OK with the driver. When I asked the driver, he told me he needed approval from his supervisor, which was the person who told me to ask the driver. Wow, what service.

The driver ended up taking me to the courthouse, with another couple in the van on the way to the airport. When I got to the office of the Deputy DA who was handling the case, I spent over an hour in his office reviewing the details until the trial began at 10:30. We then headed to court at 10:30 and I waited outside until they were ready to swear me in.

At 11:00, I still hadn't been sworn in and the jury came out and was told to return at 1:30. The Culver City detective that made the arrest told me there'd been an issue of whether or not the original report I provided would be admissable in court. So I went off with the Deputy DA and Public Defender to a conference room to talk about the reports. This took 90 minutes, most of it from the Public Defender trying to understand the financial statements.

It was now 12:30. I grabbed a lame turkey sandwich and chips at the cafeteria in the courthouse and waited in the Public Defender's office until court was ready to reconvene. I was sworn in, and provided testimony until 3:00, when the judge called for a 10 minute recess. Then the Public Defender cross-examined me until 4:10 when the judge called it a day.

While there were a lot less objections in my testimony, there was at one point a lengthy sidebar, and just one "strike that from the record, the jury will disregard those remarks". I made a conscious effort to speak slowly and clearly, as I was told previously at the hearing I spoke a bit too fast. I was proud of myself when the court stenographer didn't ask me to repeat anything.

This was one of my not so fun trips. Crummy hotel and service, flights to and from Los Angeles barely tolerable but thankfully short, and total time in court was over 4 1/2 hours. I intended to go the gym once I got home, but after all the terrible food I had, I inhaled a rice plate when I got home. So I ended up crashing on the couch for 2 hours. I probably needed the rest. It's good to be home.

Friday, August 24, 2007

All-Time Gold Glove Team


A couple of days ago, Rawlings announced their all-time Gold Glove team. They are by position:
pitchers (tie): Greg Maddux and Jim Kaat

catcher: Johnny Bench

1st base: Wes Parker

2nd base: Joe Morgan

3rd base: Brooks Robinson

shortstop: Ozzie Smith

outfield: Willie Mays

outfield: Ken Griffey, Jr.

outfield: Roberto Clemente

As someone that's been around almost as long as Gold Gloves have been issued, I've seen at one time or another on TV all the players mentioned field their positions. And all of them (in my humble opinion) except one deserve to be on the team.

The one exception is 1st baseman Wes Parker. Why? While he played for the Los Angeles Dodgers his entire career, he only played for 9 seasons and received 6 Gold Gloves. Parker beat out Keith Hernandez and Don Mattingly, which I think either of them would have been a much better choice. Especially Hernandez, who won 11 consecutive Gold Gloves from 1978 to 1988. Even Mattingly had more Gold Gloves than Parker at 9.

Well, Rawlings, if you based the all-time team strictly on the number of Gold Gloves awarded, I'm not sure everyone mentioned would be on it, including Mr. Parker. Someone in his fan club really stuffed the ballot box.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Job recruiters

When I first found out I was going to lose my job, it wasn't exactly earth shattering. The company hasn't been doing well and we ended up closing about 1/3 of our locations. I was already checking job listings on a regular basis. Once I posted my resumé on Yahoo! Hot Jobs, recruiters began to take notice and e-mail me, stating they could help me find a job or my qualifications are well suited to openings they know about.

So far, the recruiters that have contacted me are batting a big fat ZERO. The first recruiter that contacted me wanted to meet so that she could have an idea of what I'd best be suited for. This was great, but the timing wasn't right. Once I found out I was getting additional severance, I decided to hold off meeting her until my job ends.

The second recruiter e-mailed me and gave me a song and dance proposal (with a fee costing hundreds of dollars) about faxing mass numbers of cover letters to so-called targeted employers. This would ensure I would get numerous job interviews. I've seen these types of faxes come through the office, and to me, it's a total joke.

First of all, half the time the senior executives the cover letters are addressed to are no longer with the company or their name is misspelled. Second, most of the letters are written in official, business-like language stating this and that about his or her accomplishments. Read past the bull---- and it's just a letter begging for a job. Third, most of the jobs the candidates are looking for aren't within the retail industry nor are they positions our company would have available. I could do all this on my own by calling companies and asking for this information myself. FOR FREE.

Then, a third recruiting firm that claims only to service "quality" clients said I was a perfect match for one of their client openings but it was already filled. They wanted me to e-mail them to set up an appointment because they were certain I was qualified for other openings. Problem was, their area of coverage was San José. Sorry, a bit out of my commuting range.

Recruiter number four e-mailed me stating the same sales pitch as the previous ones from San José. She sent me a website link and told me to apply to any of the openings I would be interested in. Wait a minute. Aren't recruiters supposed to find the openings for you? After I got a second e-mail sent wondering why I hadn't registered, I replied back curtly telling her that as a recruiter, please point out to which positions you'd like me to interview. Otherwise, you're only someone telling me to go your website that has the same postings your competitors have. What a lazy way to recruit a candidate.

The 5th and 6th recruiting firms had openings within my desired areas and claimed they had my resumé, but it's quite clear they read only my title and not my qualifications. Last Friday, recruiter number 5 e-mailed me stating she thought I'd be an excellent match for an analyst position at a well-known retailer. When she e-mailed me the job description and company, it is for a well-known retailer with an excellent salary, but requires qualifications I don't have.

And this morning, recruiting company number 6 had 2 recruiters e-mail me for an analyst position for a very large and well-known public utility company. On a 6-month contract basis. Even if I weren't being laid off, what makes them think I would leave a job with benefits to go to a contractual job that has no benefits? Again, the job description is an analyst, but not really that strong a match to my work background.

The ONLY recruiter that has found anything that matched my background is from my old company, Gymboree. One ended up filled internally. The other is my old job from 8 years ago. I'm overqualified for both positions for pay below my current salary.

Despite all the moaning and bitching, it is nice to know I'm wanted. But it's quite obvious that recruiters don't study well whom they want as candidates. A piece of advice to any recruiter that may be reading this blog because they had the smarts to Google me, do your homework!!!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

company that shares my name



Yes, they finally named a company after me. How flattering. Seriously though, LANI is actually Loan Administration Network Inc. They've been around since 1992 (ha! I've been around longer). Website is actually lani.com.

They do have an office in Walnut Creek. Since I will be out of a job next month, I could send them my resume, write a tear-jerker of a cover letter begging to be the face behind the name. After a few seconds, a roar of laughter will overwhelm the HR person with tears streaming down her face. But not before she e-mails me a note stating my resume will be kept on file for 1 year and I'll be contacted should there be an opening that matches my qualifications.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Oh the times...they are a-changin'

While the title of this blog is the name of a famous Bob Dylan song, Bryan Ferry (of Roxy Music fame) recently released an album of Dylan covers and this song is getting frequent airplay on KFOG in the San Francisco Bay Area.

As it's getting closer to end of my current job, this week in particular is starting to show real signs the company is leaving California and plowing full steam ahead into Texas. Last week, I called one of our locations to answer a finance question. I started chatting with the studio manager and she thought I was calling from Plano (Dallas area). Last Thursday, all of the current positions in my department (finance) are posted as openings in Yahoo! Hot Jobs. Plus, the office is two-thirds empty this week due to a companywide meeting in Plano. Last, but not least, this coming Friday, the company servers will be inaccessible after 12 p.m. as they will migrate them to Plano.

Then this morning, the Gymboree HR coordinator who set up my interviews in May called. She asked me if I was interested in another opening in finance. She said it was Sales Audit, which technically it is. But when I went to Gymboree's website to view the posting, it is listed as a Revenue Analyst. In short, it's my old job. I'm more than qualified to do the work and that's exactly why I politely declined. I already know the position doesn't pay what I currently make and Myra, the HR person, confirmed this was the case.

While it's still early, I sent applications out to 2 companies with treasury/cash analyst positions about a half-hour ago. One is a huge hospital, the other, a bank. If you asked me even a year ago if I would work for either of these kinds of businesses, I would have told you, "hell no". But my work has progressed more toward treasury/cash management and am looking for my next position to focus in this area. And because of the treasury/cash focus, I have to widen my search and look away from retail.

With all the severance and unpaid vacation I'll be receiving when my job ends, I can take the rest of the year off sitting high off the hog. I really should take the rest of the year off. It's been years since I didn't work a busy holiday period. I am really looking forward that I don't have to work on Black Friday, Christmas Eve or New Year's.

But at the same time, the jobs I applied to today describe duties that I currently do now. I decided I would rather apply and see if they bite, and if they don't, at least I won't wonder whether or not I would be contacted for an interview. I also know if things don't go well, I can stop, and take my time to look for the next opportunity.

Monday, August 13, 2007

New contact lenses for myopia


Today, another Associated Press video features a story that one can now wear contact lenses while sleeping to correct myopia, which is the exact opposite of how most users wear their contacts.

I've been myopic since I was 11. While most thought glasses were a death sentence as to how one would be perceived in school, I thought it was extremely cool. I never thought about the "coke-bottle" look, but the intelligent, respected look that people got when they wore spectacles that fit them well.

What I realized as I got older was that glasses were not cool when I played basketball and softball. They fogged up and were likely to get damaged and/or broken. I then got contact lenses when I was 15. My dad thought I was too young. But I convinced him I would be very good about taking care of them and that I needed them for sports.

I wore hard, then later, rigid gas permeable contact lenses (RGP's) for about 25 years. It wasn't until I turned 40 that I could no longer wear RGP's. I didn't wear contact lenses for nearly a year until I got fitted for daily disposable soft contact lenses. I've been wearing disposables for about 6 years now, and am relieved I can wear contact lenses nearly all the time again. The only drawback is that I could wear RGP's up to 17 hours without feeling dryness or discomfort. My disposables on most days is about 14 hours.

The best thing about having disposables is that I can throw a bunch in my carry-on when I travel and only have to bring saline solution with me. I used to have to bring wetting/soaking solution, cleaner, a case and a spare pair of lenses as they can get lost or misplaced. And if I stayed over a week, enzyme tablets for the weekly deep cleaning.

As to whether I would consider wearing this new kind of contact lens, I'm not sure. While I like the idea of not having to wear lenses during the day, having to wear them at night is not something I'm crazy about. Falling asleep with contact lenses for me is not comfortable.

It's all very promising. But I'd like to wait and see first.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

defining chocolate


An article in today's Associated Press (photo courtesy from them too) about whether or not the FDA will allow changes in the ingredients that define chocolate. In its purest form, chocolate must contain between 50 to 60 percent cocoa butter.

The Grocery and Chocolate Manufacturers Association and several other food industry groups want to see those standards changed. By doing this, it would allow some flexibility in using different techniques and standards on the way chocolate is made. The argument about relaxing the standard is that it would cut costs in manufacturing and the savings can be passed to the consumer.

As far as I'm concerned, leave this alone!!! I know I'm not the only one who has a strong emotional attachment to this luscious, creamy treat. By allowing to define chocolate with other ingredients, namely vegetable oil, I'm not likely to go anywhere near it. Legally, it can't be called chocolate either.

There's a reason why premium chocolates like Scharffen Berger, Joseph Schmidt, and Godiva have such a cult following. There's true artistry in the way their chocolate is made.

I don't care. My fingers are in my ears now and I'm doing my best Sergeant Schultz imitation, "I see nothing. I hear nothing".

Sunday, August 05, 2007

tub soak



For the past 2 Sundays, I lounge most of the day at home and visit the gym in the late afternoon. Because this is my last workout of the week, I make this a short session (about an hour). I come home, have dinner and then soak in the tub.

Once out of the tub, I apply Philosophy body butter in mint. The smell and feel of mint is very soothing. Up until I tried this, Origins Ginger Souffle was my favorite. They're both wonderful, but in different ways.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Remembering Bill Walsh

As most San Francisco Bay Area sports fans have learned, former 49er and Stanford football coach Bill Walsh passed away today. No doubt there'll be hundreds of blogs written about one's memories of Coach Walsh's tenure with the 49ers.

Mine started in 1982. An Ohio State student at the time, my sister Cindy and I attended a Super Bowl party to see the 49ers versus the Cincinnati Bengals. As an ardent Buckeye follower and Ohio resident, we all wanted the Bengals. But the 49ers had a prominent Ohio connection. Our host Rick, a student from Youngstown, told us the 49ers owner, Eddie DeBartolo, lived and owned his business in Youngstown.

Since I was cheering for the Bengals, it was disappointing, but not heartbreaking (much more a Cleveland Browns fan then) for me to see them unable to score after a 4th and goal. I was bummed but in awe that the 49ers defense held the Bengals from scoring. Little did I know in 2 years I would be cheering for the "enemy". Oh, and my car was towed from Rick's apartment complex during the game.

When I moved to San Francisco in August, 1983, the NFL season was only a few weeks away. I found it strange at first to watch 49ers games. It was even stranger not to have Dad in the same room smoking and swearing at the TV from his favorite recliner. But as the weeks passed, I grew to like the 49ers. Coach Walsh, Joe Montana and Dwight Clark were the main reasons why I became a fan.

Once the 49ers made it into the Super Bowl in 1985, I got invited to another party hosted by one of the guys in the church basketball group I played with on Saturdays at Lincoln High School. While Buckeye football fans are among the most passionate, the 49er fans I met came pretty close. After hearing whoops and cheers throughout the neighborhood immediately after the game ended, there was no going back.

In 1989, I ended up watching Super Bowl XXIII alone. It was one of the most exciting games I'd ever seen (Ohio State versus Miami in the BCS 2003 ranks right up there). After wide receiver John Taylor scored the winning touchdown, I could hear several of my neighbors across the street screaming. This would be Walsh's last game as the 49ers head coach.

Under Walsh's tutelage, the 49ers made winning look easy. So easy many of us took it for granted. We know how difficult it was only after he was no longer coach. Just ask Dennis Erickson. Thanks for the wonderful, wonderful memories, Coach. You will be sorely missed.

photo courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Job opening

I found out today that my job has been officially posted at Yahoo! Hot Jobs last week. I've been told there have been a few applicants. I hope that I'll get to meet and train my replacement before my job officially ends. If you're curious about the work I do, go to Hot Jobs, type in "treasury analyst", Dallas, TX. Look for the retail posting in Plano.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Happy Birthday, Cindy!



Today is my sister's Cindy's birthday. Older by only 10 months and 3 weeks, we are the same age for 3 weeks every year. Because we were so close in age, Mom dressed us up like twins until I was about 10.

This picture was taken of us just before our trip to Cleveland to visit the Chang family (Mom's sister's family) in April, 1969. Cindy is the one on the right. As you can see, Mom succeeded very well in her goal to make us twins. Same haircut, coat, dress, shoes and socks.

But we're much, much older now. We live 3 time zones away from each other, and don't dress alike anymore. We do both have finance occupations and Dad still can't tell our voices apart. Cindy is also one of the most diehard of Buckeye fans among us all.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Blame Game

I am seeing more and more stories of people blaming problems on someone or something else. A Reno couple blaming internet addiction on their reason for child neglect. A San Jose mother blaming the drowning of her 4-year old son on Great America. Two years ago, unofficially retired Baltimore Oriole Rafael Palmeiro claimed teammate Miguel Tejada supplied him with steroids.

STOP!

To the Reno couple, Michael and Iana Straw, do the terms abstinence or birth control mean anything to you? I hope they sterilize you while you're locked up and never allow you to see your children ever again.

To San Jose mom Yolanda Flores, yes, losing your son was terribly tragic. But where exactly were you when your son was found in the water? It wouldn't have mattered if there were 50 lifeguards on duty. Your son should have never been left alone.

And, to Mr. Palmeiro, naming another teammate as a contributor to your admitted steroid use was truly classless. Whatever respect anyone had for you is all gone. I hope every waking moment of your life you feel terrible about what you said.

Come on, be an adult and accept responsibility for your actions. You have no one but yourselves to blame.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Thou shalt not steal

Tonight I stayed late at the office for 2 reasons, the first, our cleaning person Isaurina was cleaning our condo at 5:30 p.m. She was unable to come on her usual day (every other Tuesday). The second, I caught another employee stealing from us. The employee hasn't yet been questioned, but I've done enough of these audits to know what I found is outright stealing.

As written in my previous entry in October, 2006, I understand the temptations to steal, but not much else. For me, I could never live with myself. Nor would I be able to find any decent paying job where trust is paramount. I'd have to live my life in complete isolation, which for an outgoing, extroverted person like me, is a fate worse than death.

While I would NEVER condone stealing, D.B. Cooper's stunt in 1971 is the way to go. Plan it extremely well, do it only once for a huge sum of money, and never be seen or heard from again.

Monday, June 25, 2007

fighting Father Time


I usually get my hair cut about every 6 weeks. For the past 3 to 4 years, I have to include coloring with the cut to fight the gray. This is to continue fooling people that I'm at a much younger age. So far, so good.

When I was 24, I was at a Foot Locker buying hi-top basketball shoes when I used to play hoops on Saturdays. The salesman asked at which high school did I play.

At my 20th high school reunion, a former classmate ignored me for the first half hour because she didn't recognize me. She thought I looked too young to have graduated with her and that I was the former class president's date.

I don't know if I can continue this into my 60's, but getting older and wiser is a good thing. I just plan on trying my hardest not to look that way. So how old will I be Saturday? It won't be hard to figure out, but it's nearly twice the age from the time I bought the hi-tops at Foot Locker.

I'll show you my driver's license to prove it.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

should I stay or should I go now?

As you may have already noticed, my blog postings for the past month have been sporadic and likely will be for the next few months. With my job about to end in the next few months, perhaps sooner, my official job hunt so far has resulted in 2 interviews with a former employer, 2 notifications from recruiters wanting to help me find a job, and a phone call from a Walnut Creek financial services company where I'd sent my resume.

Up until last week, it was getting frustrating as I wasn't hearing much from anyone. One company responded to tell me it was being reviewed. They ended up hiring another candidate. A former employer called me the day after I submitted an application. It resulted in 2 interviews, the first with the hiring manager, the second with the hiring manager's boss. When I didn't hear from them after a week, it was apparent to me they chose someone else. I contacted the HR coordinator to find out. She confirmed they filled the position internally.

As for the financial services company in Walnut Creek, they called to schedule a phone interview but wanted to make sure I was aware of the starting salary. I wasn't, because I didn't scroll the posting all the way to the bottom, where it was listed. It was $15K less than my current salary. I asked if it was negotiable. They said no. Pay cut to commute to Walnut Creek? I politely said no thank you and ended the call.

Last weekend, I submitted a job application to a retailer in Oakland through HotJobs. This is what seemed to open things up. The next day, I got an e-mail from a recruiter specializing in finance and accounting jobs. She told me she placed someone from my company recently and said she saw my resumé online and said she could do the same for me. I first arranged an interview this past week to meet her, but decided to postpone it. We are migrating our cash management account from one bank to another and since I reconcile and monitor the account daily, leaving the office early would not be a good idea.

A few days later, I got a second e-mail from another recruiter explaining that she was confident that she could find a job for me. She sent me her company's website link to review their approach to placing people. I reviewed the proposal and she'll be following up in 2 weeks (at my request). I already know my decision, but will disclose that to the recruiter and the reasons why when she does get back in touch with me.

I end this entry to address the question posted today. Should I stay or should I go now? While I haven't gotten any solid offers yet, it is only a matter of time. I've made no secrets at work that I'm currently looking. We've had 3 people in my department leave in the last month. A co-worker and longtime employee (8 years) approached me this week and told me that who is now left in our group will likely stay until the end.

She told our new CFO that she thinks I'll be staying to the end, but with everything I've talked about, she isn't so sure now. She wanted to know what I would be doing. She also is one of the few people who really knew and understands all the work I do. She said she understands if I decided to leave before everything ends in Foster City, but personally asked me to stay. I was really touched.

I told her that because I'm very selective about my next job, I've begun the search now. It will probably take me until my job officially ends to find what I want. But if I am offered the right job, I will leave and forfeit my retention package. It is no longer about the company once the decision was made to move to Dallas. It's about keeping my paychecks coming in.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Come and get it...


After living in our condo for nearly a year, I still peruse the San Francisco real estate listings from craigslist.org almost daily. For the past several weeks (seems like months), a 4-unit building at 200-204 Funston Avenue (at California Street) is still on the market.

The listings are posted in numerous variations: purchase of the entire building, purchase of the top 2 units for a single price ($649K), and of course, individually as TIC's (tenancy-in-common). Same pictures, different wording. Excellent neighborhood (Inner Richmond). Still not sold.

I haven't visited any of the open houses, but from the other pictures shown of the units from craigslist, it seems a nice enough place. But I also understand why none of the units have been yet sold. While these units are rather sizable (about 1000 square feet), none are more than 1 bedroom.

It's my guess that these units were previously rentals and the owner decided to renovate them hoping to make some money by selling them as TIC's (just like our last landlord). Problem is, fixing them up doesn't change the fact that these are units designed for no more than 2 occupants. Most who live in 1-bedroom places would rather rent than buy.

I admire the realtors for their creative attempts to sell the units. But it hasn't worked. My suggestion to the current owner(s) or prospective buyer(s) is to hire a property management company to rent the units under short-term leases. Lease them for 2-3 months or up to a year as corporate housing/hotel alternative for those staying in San Francisco for an extended period. Ideal for college/university professors, executives, caretakers. Public transporation is just outside the door, and access to Clement and Geary Streets is a short walk.