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 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.