Monday, April 30, 2007

Davey Concepcion

image source: ESPN

Today, the Cincinnati Reds announced they will retire shortstop legend Dave Concepcion's number 13.

As mentioned in previous blogs, I grew up a HUGE Cincinnati Reds fan. I was in high school when the Big Red Machine won back-to-back World Series titles in 1975 and 1976. The 1975 Series versus the Boston Red Sox was for me the greatest World Series ever played.

While I admired Davey a lot, my brother Sherman probably admired him even more. He played shortstop all but 2 seasons from 2nd grade through high school. Sherman's first year on the high school varsity team, he chose number 13 because of Concepcion.

Immediately after Sherman's first game, Dad made him choose another number because like many people, Dad thought the number "13" would bring bad luck.

Like the Giants' Omar Vizquel, Dave played baseball with joyous enthusiasm. I can't recall a game where I didn't see a smile on his face. Both men hail from Venezuela and chose number 13 in honor of their homeland idol, Luis Aparicio, who played for the Chicago White Sox, Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox.

Davey's number will be officially retired on July 28, when the Chicago Cubs will be in town to play Cincinnati. Thanks for the memories, Dave.

Friday, April 27, 2007

very high pollen count

To some of us, it was a lovely, sunny spring day in the San Francisco Bay Area. For me, a year-round allergy sufferer, this past week has been hell, especially when it gets windy.

I saw last night's weather forecast showed high tree and weed pollen counts. My sinuses have a tendency to go berserk with high grass pollen count, which today in San Mateo/Foster City was very high.

This is the worst I've had in sometime. I left the office early yesterday because I couldn't stop sneezing and blowing my nose. When I got home, I crashed on the couch for about 2 hours, which helped, because it made me stop sneezing.

My oversized mesh wastebasket, which sits in my quasi-office in the dining room, is usually never more than 1/3 full before our cleaning person Isaurina empties it every other week. Today, it is almost 1/2 full because I've been discarding tissue wads into it constantly.

Sneezing is still rampant, but not nearly as bad as yesterday or the day before that. My eyelids and cheeks look a bit red and bumpy, which I attribute to how bad my allergies are right now. I've been hearing "bless you" said so much that I'm beginning to think I found religion.

Oh, God I hope not.

image courtesy of

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Skybus Airlines

Just found out in tomorrow's New York Times, Skybus Airlines, a new low-fare airlines makes their debut. This caught my attention because Skybus is based from my birthplace, Columbus, Ohio. In the 23+ years I've lived in San Francisco, I have never been able to fly directly to Columbus.

Over the years, I've flown America West (connect in Phoenix), United (Chicago O'Hare or Denver), TWA (St. Louis), U.S. Airways (Indianapolis), Delta (Cincinnati) to get to Columbus. Delta was usually the most painless because Cincinnati is only about 100 miles from Columbus. Chicago and Phoenix for me have been the worst because of the vast walking distance within the terminal to catch the connection. We haven't been to Columbus in almost 2 years because our last trip on United during Christmas 2005 was one of the worst experiences we've ever had.

Fares on Skybus start out EXTREMELY low, at $10. But charges are incurred for checking-in luggage, purchasing soda, etc. And while not a big deal, flights are from Oakland. What Skybus has done is fulfill 2 extremely important reason why to fly with them:

1. DIRECT flight to Columbus from SF Bay Area

We really don't have an excuse not to visit Cindy anymore. I hope they stick around.

image courtesy of

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Generation 1.5 (a different kind of generation gap)

For those who aren't sure and afraid to ask, I am second-generation Asian-American. Specifically, American-born Chinese (ABC). Both my parents were born in Guangzhou (Canton) in Guangdong province, which is the ancestral province to many of the first Chinese to settle in the United States.

As broadcasted across the media prominently last week, Seung-Hui Cho was identified as the lone gunman in the Virginia Tech University shooting. Cho was a Korean-American who came to United States with his family in 1992. What also has been noted not so prominently is that Cho was considered among Koreans-Americans as someone who was "Generation 1.5", a person who arrived in the United States during school age (Cho was 8).

Up until the Virginia Tech shooting, I'd only known of generations in whole numbers. Japanese have specific names of generations (Issei, Nisei, Sansei, and Yonsei). I think "Generation 1.5" is a far more accurate description of those who arrive at school age. Because they didn't arrive as adults, many successfully integrate into American society and we often forget their birthplace wasn't in the United States.

But as I think about friends and family, Generation 1.5 probably has the largest gap of how much integration immigrants have in American society. The younger the age, the more integrated the person becomes. For example, my mom arrived in her teens, but Cantonese (Toisan) is still her first language. My cousin David arrived at the age of 4 and speaks limited Cantonese.

The lack of integration for Generation 1.5'ers is what can make life difficult. Culture and lifestyle at home versus school or work can be vastly different. It's difficult to know where you do or don't fit in. And this is where I think Seung-Hui Cho failed miserably. Fortunately, the vast majority who suffer as he did don't go on shooting rampages and kill innocent people.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Richie's return

Baseball season is officially underway. As a former Cincinnati Reds now San Francisco Giants fan, I was bummed 4 years ago when shortstop Rich Aurilia's contract wasn't renewed after 9 seasons. He went on to play with the Seattle Mariners, San Diego Padres and Cincinnati Reds. Before the season began, I was excited to hear Richie was rejoining the Giants.

The past 2 nights, Rich had key hits in the Giants' win versus the St. Louis Cardinals. Last night after 12 innings, he hit a single that enabled Randy Winn to score the winning run. This afternoon, Mr. Aurilia hit a double that became the go-ahead runs to win 6-2. He has also proved his fielding versatility, playing mostly first and third base. He is also the backup shortstop to Omar Vizquel.

While the season hasn't started well for the Giants, Rich has made big contributions toward San Francisco's victories both offensively and defensively. But it's a long season and hope the Giants do well. We missed you, Richie. Welcome home.

image courtesy of

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

To Live and Fly to L.A.

Yesterday afternoon, I left the office early to catch a flight to LAX. The District Attorney's office of Los Angeles County issued me a subpoena earlier this month to appear at a hearing at 8:30 a.m this morning. There were a lot of cases on the court's calendar, and the case where I was to provide testimony for didn't convene well until 11:30.

At 11:40 or so, I was the second witness called. I remained in the witness box the longest among three of us that testified today. I testified for about 20 minutes before the court recessed for lunch. Then after lunch, I testified for another 40 minutes or so. I had a 3:05 p.m. flight back to San Francisco. Even though the courthouse was only 10 minutes from LAX, I didn't leave the courthouse until 2:40 p.m.

Because I thought I would miss my flight, I was on a cell phone with the company travel agency to see if they could get me on a later flight. Luckily, my 3:05 flight didn't board until 3:35 p.m., so I made it to the gate in time and actually left LAX around 4, as it was a completely full flight. I already packed my gym bag Sunday night, so I was more than ready to head to the gym once I got back to San Francisco.

While I can't comment on specifics about the case, I found the entire court process tedious and fascinating at the same time. This was my first time ever to testify in court. The last time I was called as a witness to testify was in 1984, where the District Attorney's office in Chickasha, Oklahoma (near Norman) flew me out to testify for a credit card fraud case. The case settled just before trial proceedings began, so I didn't go through the "raise-your-right-hand-do-you-solemnly-swear-that-the-testimony-provided-today-is-the-truth..." I don't think "so-help-you-God" is recited anymore.

The parts that I found fascinating was that my testimony actually had the TV stuff we've seen on shows like "Law & Order", "Perry Mason" and "L.A. Law". There were things said in my testimony where the defense issued objections, or asked to be stricken from the court records. Prior to the hearing, I was brought to a very small room next to the entryway of the courtroom with the A.D.A. and the arresting detective preparing me for my testimony.

I won't yet know the outcome, and I don't know how well or poorly I did. But in my line of work, I may do it again and will be better prepared. It will be something I won't forget anytime soon (not that I forget much anyway).
image courtesy of CNN

Friday, April 13, 2007


As usual for this time of year, my allergies are acting up. Sneezing, sore nose from too much tissue wiping, and my right eye consistently itchy and red. For the first time in over a year, I didn't wear my contact lenses to work. Because I can't exercise without wearing contacts, I wear my glasses most of the day and put in my contacts just before heading to my workout.

While I like the look of spectacles, they're not comfortable for me to wear outside the house. I fog them up when I'm warm, the nose pieces pinch after prolonged wearing, and I don't see as well out of them compared to contact lenses. I've thought about getting LASIK but find it expensive and not sure it would completely correct my extreme myopia (it's about 20/200).

Windy days aggravates the sneezing. While my allergies are year round, spring season is the worst for me. It usually subsides around May, sometimes into June. Cold compresses and eye drops will be a frequent companion for the next few weeks.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Taxing taxes

This past week, my tax accountant informed me I owe a total of almost $3K in taxes for 2006. With the condo purchase last July, I thought I would be seeing a refund, but also knew in the back of my mind I may end up owing because of stocks and cash I liquidated toward the down payment.

To pay the taxes, I had 2 options. First, write checks (ugh!) payable to the IRS and Franchise Tax board of "Coli-for-nee-uh". The second option, put it on a credit card and pay it off in about 6 months. I initially decided to put it on my credit card, but then found out the company the Federal & State uses to process the charge issues a 2.49% (percentage based on amount owed) fee, which was about $75.

Then I realized not only would I have to pay $75 for the processing fee, I'll have interest accrued against any unpaid balance (for me, about 1% a month). My next thought was to tap into my Roth IRA. Not something I wanted to do, but after being nearly credit card debt-free for 7+ years, I was determined not to start another balance, albeit small, compared to the average credit card debt of $8K or so.

I called Ester, my financial planner, and told her I wanted to move money from my Roth IRA into my checking account. Since my account was over 5 years old, I wouldn't incur fees there, but she told me it could have tax implications. Geez Louise, taxed on income to pay my friggin' taxes. Any wonder why Wesley Snipes left the country. My initial internet research tells me I'll still have to pay a 10% early withdrawal fee because I'm not 59 1/2 yet. If I had tapped into the Roth as part of my down payment (up to $10K) on the condo, I would have been exempt. (AARRGGGHH!)

Either way, the fees are about the same. I decided to tap into the Roth because I pay everything off in one shot. If I paid it with my credit card, my cash flow is a lot tighter and my debt lingers on for the remainder of the year. On the brighter side, I got my review at work today and got a small raise. A comfort to know since there was a wage freeze last year.

Despite all of this, I don't regret our condo purchase whatsoever. I've been hit over the head too many times about how much one can save in taxes from a buying a house. But I don't feel like I'm going to see any real relief for another 2 years.

image courtesy of

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

New colors

Tonight I played around with my blog template and changed a few colors. I found too many other blogs were using the same template (Sand Dollar) as mine. While I like the format and colors, I wanted to make it look a bit different than the standard template. Depending on my mood, there might a few more modifications before I finally leave it alone.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Gators rule, Buckeyes drool

OK, Ohio State lost in the championship game of the NCAA's Men Basketball tonight. My alma mater also lost the BCS (football) game in January to the same team, the Florida Gators. One could say that it takes a lot for a team to make it to the championship game. But that's what losers say to make themselves feel better.

I am not a loser.
I am not a loser.
I am not a loser.
I am not a loser.
I am not a loser.


Congratulations AGAIN, Florida.