Sunday, December 28, 2008

Watching reruns not on TV

Before heading out to Christmas dinner at Pauline's a few days ago, I spent my downtime online. If you haven't already figured it out by now, I'm online constantly. Even a lot longer than I am watching TV anymore. Don't let my athletic tendencies fool you. I, Lani Chin, consider myself a full-fledged honorary and proud member of geekdom.

But what I did online was watch TV. I was at, watching reruns of a favorite NBC program in the 70's (1972-1979), "Emergency!". While it was actor Robert Fuller as Dr. Kelly Brackett, F.A.C.S. (right of center in blog pic) that got top billing, it was Randolph Mantooth as Fireman John Gage (center) that brought hormone overloaded teenage girls like me to watch the program every Saturday night.

A similar site to, also features films and TV shows. The best part: both sites allow you to view the shows for FREE. I took a look at Joost last night and found, for me, it doesn't offer as much as Hulu. Hulu also has many other current TV programs (Family Guy, Fringe, Chuck, Heroes) and feature films also available for viewing.

It's a great option when there's nothing interesting currently on TV to watch. Check it out sometime.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hell On Wheels

Pictured to the left is the latest in the fleet of junk from the neighbors from hell. I have to admit the noise and seedy visitors have all but disappeared.

I think the C.W. Nevius column in the San Francisco Chronicle published a few weeks back really did make an impact. Compared to what it was previously, it's a major improvement. However, the house still sticks out like a sore thumb.

The dilipidated truck with the white and blue covers in the driveway hasn't moved. An old washer that looks like it hasn't worked in 30 years sits on the wall to the right of the stairs leading to the house.

I wouldn't be surprised to find the truck gone in the next few weeks because it isn't DMV registered. Slow but measurable progress is being made.

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Matter of Loaf and Death

I've been a HUGE Wallace and Gromit fan for about 15 years. So when I found out there's a new short feature film (like "A Close Shave" and "The Wrong Trousers") that is debuting on December 3, I got all excited. Problem is, it will only be shown in the U.K. and Australia. No date announced as to when it will be available in the U.S. It's likely this will be featured later in 2009 in an animation film festival.

I'm glad to hear that creator Nick Park has returned to the short feature format. While I did like "Curse of the Were Rabbit" very much, the short features have a lot of charm, wit and sight gags packed into 30 to 60 minutes that a full length feature tends to drag out. And while Mr. Park stresses this is being tailored for British audiences, I think that's great. Much of the charm of Wallace and Gromit is because it is very British.

Jolly good.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Neighborhood Nuisance, part 2

As mentioned in my last blog posting, my neighbors across the street were likely the subject in a recent San Francisco Chronicle column. The picture from that entry was taken in June. The picture showing in today's entry was taken 2 days ago.

It does look like some effort is being made to spruce up the house. The house was painted about 2 months ago, but there hasn't been any progress since. The upper right window displaying a fan is still broken. The dilapidated truck in the driveway is now covered loosely with blue and white covers. There's still debris scattered around the outside areas.

This past week, a camper shell from a truck was sitting on the curb in front of the house. It moved to the sidewalk yesterday. Today, there is a bunch of metal debris sitting where the camper shell was. As I vented on my Twitter postings this past week, the sound of someone rummaging glass in the garbage bins could be heard for several hours late Thursday night.

Come on. I don't live in Pacific Heights or St. Francis Woods but I consider my neighborhood, the Inner Sunset, to be nice and a desirable place to live. It's inconsiderate, uncaring bums like my neighbors that rob me of my homeowner pride in one of the most desirable cities in the world.

Next step: Notify the Department of Health about the eyesore sitting in the driveway. Slowly but surely the problem will be eradicated. I want my peace and quiet.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Neighborhood Nuisance

Today, San Francisco Chronicle columnist C.W. Nevius wrote about my San Francisco neighborhood, the Sunset district and our fight to rid urban blight.

The description of the house and its occupants accurately describes our neighbors across the street. I wrote about them in a previous blog entry this past July. I'm certain the article is about these folks. The San Francisco police visit this house regularly.

On my way home from work November 4, 5 SFPD squad cars were in front of our house, 2 of them blocking my driveway. I had to circle around the block to give them some time to finish their "visit".

This past weekend (as described in my Twitter posting), a motorcycle roared up and down the street all evening. I called the non-emergency number and the dispatcher said they'd look into it. Within an hour, the noise stopped. It's apparent the SFPD keep a close watch on this house. It's helping, but it will take some time before the problem is completely eliminated.

Until then, I have to grit my teeth and put up with it. Just as I end this blog, the motorcycle just roared down the street. Again. Sigh.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Voice to a face

The past 2 months have been nothing but reunions. First, it was seeing my family to celebrate my parents' 50th wedding anniversary. Less than a week later, it was my 30th high school reunion. Now, it's connecting to former classmates and co-workers (mostly from my previous employer) on Facebook and LinkedIn.

If any of my Facebook friends find some of my comments about "seeing you for the first time" a bit strange, it's because 2 of my recent connections were former store/studio managers I knew over the years were people I only talked to over the phone. I've never met them in person. I talked to them so much that I would recognize their voices immediately when they'd call.

A small world now only smaller. And for me, not in a bad way.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I felt all flushed with fever...

I spent this past weekend entirely resting and drinking tons of cranberry juice and water. I had UTI (Urinary Tract Infection). This was my second bout in 7 years.

This bout of UTI first started last weekend during my trip to Columbus for my high school reunion. I intentionally put it off hoping it would work itself out, or get to the doctor's office once I returned home to San Francisco.

It was understandable, but not advisable. The fever and chills began 2 days after I got back to town. Did I visit the doctor then? Nooooo. I've successfully ended colds and flu after a fever and thought the same would apply to a UTI. It doesn't. I finally reached the doctor and she said she couldn't see me. She advised me to visit the UCSF Screening & Acute Care Clinic immediately. The visit would cost me the same as a standard co-payment to the doctor's office.

When I left the office, it was clearly evident how ill I really was. I was in my chill cycle. The outside temperature got up to 82 degrees before I cracked open a window. Usually when the temperature goes above 65, I'd have the air conditioning on as soon as I start the car.

The nurse at the clinic saw me within 10 minutes. She took my temperature and seemed a bit alarmed when she told me it was 102 degrees. I provided a urine sample and within another 15 minutes, the attending resident called my name and confirmed I had UTI. She prescribed me a non-penicillin (I'm allergic to it) antibiotic. I got it filled at Walgreens within the hour.

My fever was so bad that I soaked through my pillow case, the bedsheet, 3 T-shirts and a towel over the course of the weekend. By Saturday night, my body temperature returned to normal, which is around 97 degrees.

The cause (which I won't specify) of both episodes of UTI was the same. In both cases, I failed to do something I should have. Let's just say cranberry juice is back in my diet and I will always do what needs to be done to prevent this from happening again.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Whitehall-Yearling High School Reunion - Class of '78

My long weekend in Columbus is about to wrap up. I came in Friday night to attend my high school reunion. This is the 3rd reunion from my class that I've attended. And like the others, I had a wonderful time. The turnout for what was a class of under 300 was small and intimate.

Most of the attendees were people I'd seen at the previous reunions, but there were a few I hadn't since seen since high school. It was wonderful to catch up. My brother Sherman knows a few of my classmates very well, and as he has at my previous reunions, called the next day to get a recap.

So to those I saw last night, already Google'd to check out this blog and see what else I'm up to, it was great to see you. Hopefully it will be in 5 rather than 10 years that I see you all again.

GUYS: Gary, Terry, Tom, John, Bob, Randy, Tim, Joe, Ed, Bill, Pat
GALS: Barb H., Barb K., Andi, Eva, Cindy, Cindi, Patti, Melody, Tina, Kim, Sharon, Cris, Karin, Michelle, Tracy, Kathy, Lori, and special thanks to Jennifer for helping Barb H. organize. This evening wouldn't have happened without your help.

Go Rams!

Saturday, October 11, 2008


If you've haven't been following my Twitter postings, I just returned today from a Royal Caribbean cruise from Cape Liberty in Bayonne, NJ to Bermuda. It was my first cruise ever to celebrate my parents' 50th wedding anniversary.

My parents love to gamble. The original plan was to spend a few days in Las Vegas. My brother Sherman then took it one step further and decided a cruise would be better. Everything my parents like to do would all be in one place. It turned out to be the best gift for them.

Mom and Dad pigged out at the buffet at ALL meals. They stayed in the casinos at least until 1 a.m. Slept in and napped whenever they wanted. After 2 days, we stopped going to our assigned dinner table because we preferred the variety and flexibility the buffet offered. We were booked in one of the luxury suites, so we got satellite on a flat screen TV and the option to watch whatever DVD's were in the library. Dad self-serviced himself frozen yogurt everyday after lunch and/or dinner.

For me, I brought my laptop but couldn't get wireless access. I ended up going to their online center, but they charged $0.55/minute for usage. I needed my online fix, so I coughed up the bucks. Twenty minutes goes by really quickly. I treated myself to a Swedish massage, and used the gym facilities twice during our 5-day cruise. My brother Sherman, the fitness junkie, went to the gym daily. My sister Cindy sat out on the balcony outside our suite to gaze at the ocean for hours on end. Everyone got what they wanted out of the cruise.

It looks like this is going to become an annual outing.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Update to "Eye on the Bay" segment

As I was setting the DVR for 11 a.m. tomorrow on KPIX, the episode featured is not "Eye on the Bay". It is very possible that I may not find myself in a rerun. Oh well.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A claim, albeit BRIEF, to fame

Back in June, KPIX contacted me to do an interview about fog on their newsmagazine show, "Eye on the Bay". I was told the segment wouldn't appear until September. I had been perusing their website for the past few weeks to see if it was coming up on any of the program listings. There was a feature about fog last night, but wasn't sure if this was going to include my interview.

I had it marked on my calendar to watch it. I ran an errand at Target after work and didn't make it home in time. Sure enough, the person who originally contacted for the interview emailed me this afternoon to tell me it was on. It's up on Eye on the Bay's website now. And if you are among the many friends and family I notified today on Facebook, Twitter or personal email and haven't found out about my TV appearance, then you've been under a rock for the past 6 hours. Or dead.

Just in case you STILL don't have it, here's the link. My last name was incorrectly said as "Chang". But hey, at least my first name was pronounced correctly. For those of you in the San Francisco Bay Area, the segment will air again on Sunday, September 28 at 11 a.m. on KPIX (CBS), channel 5. Crunched for time on your way to brunch or football game? No problem. You'll only have to watch the first 6 minutes. I appear twice in that time frame. It's a good as time as any to fire up that DVR.

Autographs cheerfully provided upon request.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Diet Coke. Just for the taste of it...

I haven't touched regular soda (or pop, as they say in parts of Canada and in Ohio) in over 20 years. Even when I did drink it, about the only drink I could gulp in semi-massive quantities was Mello Yello. My dad (today's his birthday) liked Mello Yello so much that he used to hide his supply from us.

When I decided to give up regular soda, I tried Tab, Diet Rite, Diet Pepsi, Diet 7up, Diet Sprite, Diet Dr. Pepper and a bunch of others I won't bother to mention. To me, Diet Coke was and still is the best tasting. Even over regular soda (which I have no desire to drink anymore). I used to opt for Diet Pepsi if Diet Coke wasn't available. But Diet Pepsi is nasty and would rather have plain, still water instead.

I then tried to go the route of giving up soda altogether. Including diet. This was successful for about 2 years. I switched to fruit drinks, iced teas, flavored vitamin and sparkling waters. The energy and fruit drinks don't have as much sugar as regular soda, but still too much. Sparkling water is good, but doesn't neutralize strong tasting food, isn't as satisfying or available. I still drink iced tea, usually green and diet.

So, after too many drowsy, dragged out afternoons at the office, I returned to Diet Coke. This time, I ventured off into other variations. Diet Coke w/Lemon made with Splenda, decaffeinated Diet Coke, a vitamin fortified version, Coke Zero, with Lime, and with Cherry.

Coke Zero is bitter and nasty and in no way, shape or form tastes like regular Coke. Only marginally better than Diet Pepsi. All the other Diet Coke versions are likable enough, but whenever I return to original formula Diet Coke, I notice the taste difference right away. Not too fizzy and very satisfying.

Gulp, gulp, gulp. Long live Diet Coke.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

San Francisco, August 1983

Last month was my 25th anniversary in San Francisco. While reading a discussion thread in Yelp! asking for native San Franciscans to comment about what their childhood experiences. I'm not a native, but it made me realize in 25 years, many things about my transplanted city have changed.
  • Stonestown Galleria was an outdoor mall with mostly mom and pop type shops and very few chains. What is now Macy's was Emporium Capwell. Petrini's Supermarket was where McDonald's now is.

  • Marine World was in Redwood City where Oracle now is.

  • Bridgepointe Shopping Center in San Mateo was Fashion Island Mall. One of the store's anchors was Whole Earth Access. A skating rink was located inside the mall.

  • Potrero Avenue and 16th Street was the San Francisco Autocenter. 

  • Highway 480 dominated the skyline at my workplace on Davis and Broadway. It was torn down completely after the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake.

  • Royal Theatre on Polk and California, Regency Theatres I and II on Van Ness and Sutter, Northpoint Theatre on Powell and Bay (saw "Ghostbusters" and "Top Gun" there), Parkside Theatre on Taraval Street and 20th Avenue (saw "Field of Dreams" there).
  • Crocker and Security Pacific were major banks. Crocker merged with Wells Fargo, Bank of America acquired Security Pacific.

  • Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA) was the dominant discount airline carrier, very similar business model to Southwest Airlines.
Wow, recalling these makes me realize how long I've been around.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

How to Be a Leading Hollywood Player When You're Lazy

Ricky Gervais's new film, Ghost Town is due for release on September 18.  I saw the trailer when we went to see Vicky Cristina Barcelona last week. While doing my regular surfing, I came across an Esquire article Ricky has written and it's hilarious. You can also read it here.

The Best Advice Is: Be in charge. Then you can do anything. If you're not in charge, always play characters who have your haircut. That saves an hour in the morning. No wigs, no beards. Forget it. I had to wear a beard for one day. Ridiculous. Forty minutes. No. My haircut: ten minutes. And don't choose ridiculous costumes. Choose normal clothes. Ordinary trousers, ordinary shoes that you can put on yourself. Costume: five minutes. Hair and makeup: ten minutes. That's it. No costumes. No wigs. Own haircut.

Two: Do your own accent. You don't want to have vocal coaching. Don't do anything that needs skill. If there's a scene and it says " . . . rides a horse," say, "You do not need me to ride that horse." Because you'll have to learn how to ride a horse. That could take, like, two weeks. Too busy. Too much trouble.

Three: Always say that your character should be sitting down. Don't ever be standing at the beginning of a scene. So if it starts off, "There's a knock at the door, you get up and answer the door," you'll be up and down for eight hours. Convince them that you should sit there and say, "Come in." When we were filming Ghost Town, I tried to convince the director, David Koepp, that we should do a remake of Ironside together. It's the old TV drama with Raymond Burr as a detective in a wheelchair. Also, I've always wanted to play someone in a coma. Just comes out of it at the end. I was really jealous of Colin Farrell when I found out that Phone Booth was shot in just 16 days. Some of it, he was sitting on the floor of the telephone box. One location, sitting down.

Four: If there are long and complicated monologues, cut them. Say, "I don't think I'd say that." No one will think you're being lazy; it comes across as integrity.

So if any directors are reading this, I will work every day. I will give it my all. I will give it everything. I will give you 100 percent between the hours of, say, eight and six. And that's from pickup to wrap. If it's, like, two miles away, you can't go, "You'll be picked up at six, it'll be over at eight." You're having a laugh. My pickup is no earlier than seven-thirty. I'm not a maniac. I have to be wrapped by six. Five-day weeks. I only shoot in London and New York. No night shoots. No wigs. No nudity--that's more for the general public's sake as opposed to mine. And let's not go on and on with it. Let's try to keep it under five, six weeks. So, Spielberg--your move.
--As told to David Walters

Monday, September 01, 2008

RIM Blackberry Curve 8310

Toward the end of July, I bought my first smartphone, a RIM BlackBerry Curve 8310 to replace my Sony Ericsson W600i. Like the Nokia that preceded my Sony, the phone contains all of my must haves in features: Bluetooth, speakerphone, cameraphone (which is now standard in most cell phones). I originally had no interest in getting a smartphone, but since my current employer permits us to expense the cost up to $200 on smartphones, I had to take advantage of the offer.

It's now going on my third month with the BlackBerry. In order for me to feel like I was taking full advantage of BlackBerry's features, I changed to an unlimited data/text/e-mail plan. I'm glad I did. I added Twitter, my Yahoo! e-mail, NYTimes for mobile and Facebook to read messages when I'm not on my laptop. I e-mail and send a lot more text messages now, but because I can access this so quickly, I'm also finding I'm more much attentive to the phone than ever before. At work, I find myself constantly looking to see if the flashing LED is red, which means I have a new text or e-mail message.

Two features that my Sony had that my BlackBerry doesn't are a countdown timer and flashlight. I found a free countdown timer from NorthCubed and inexpensive flashlight at Handango. The timer isn't quite as good as Sony's. The loudness can't be adjusted and once time has elapsed, it turns off with no reminder. So if it goes off and I don't know it, I'm SOL.

I don't have yet my work email setup on the BlackBerry. It isn't a requirement (at least not yet) for me to have it installed. I won't be pushing for it anytime soon.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Quarter of a Century

Today is my 25th anniversary in San Francisco. My brother Sherman, his buddy Stan and I drove my 1980 Toyota Celica GT Liftback (front of it shown in picture behind me) from Columbus, Ohio to San Francisco in 4 1/2 days.

Our first stop was in Lawrence, Kansas. We almost didn't get a hotel that night because our stop coincided with parents helping their kids onto campus at the University of Kansas. Second stop was in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Third stop was in Salt Lake City, Utah. Last stop was Reno, Nevada. Our route was I-70 West until we reached I-25 North in Colorado, then finished the rest of our trip on I-80.

We stayed with my cousin Wilgee and his girlfriend (now wife) Amanda in San Bruno when we got into town. I started my first full-time job with The Sharper Image the following week. Unfortunately, The Sharper Image went out of business earlier this year. There will be a reunion party at Gordon Biersch in early September.

Twenty-five years later, about the only things that haven't changed are that I still wear exclusively Levi's jeans and live in the Sunset district. Except now I live in the Inner Sunset. My first residence was in the Outer Sunset.

Home sweet home.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

If it ain't broke, don't fix it...

Fully into middle age, I have been a dedicated user (35 years) of Sea Breeze astringent, ORIGINAL FORMULA. About 3 years ago, the manufacturers developed a new formula, Actives. Like New Coke, it never should have been made.

EWWWWW! At the time I bought it, I had no idea it wasn't the original formula. I immediately realized it when my skin felt sticky and didn't feel the same refreshing tingle as I always did. I compared an old bottle to the new one and noticed Original Formula wasn't labeled on it.

I then found sold the Original Formula and bought a few bottles. A few months later, I found out sold it. Woo hoo! I was already having difficulty finding it on store shelves, so I was relieved to know I could now purchase it from a website I regularly use.

Home free! Or so I thought. This past weekend, I went to and found it was no longer available. I Google'd to see where else it was available. It was comforting to know that there's a website, Tami's Clock, with numerous comments from other incensed users about the attempt to kill our beloved astringent. I've tried Dickinson's Witch Hazel, Clean and Clear, Sea Breeze astringent Sensitive Skin formula, and a few others. NONE of them work as effectively as Sea Breeze astringent, Original Formula.

As of today, eBay merchant sells Original Formula., where I bought a few before I found them at no longer sell it. and have it listed but is currently not available. A few beauty supply stores do sell in larger quantities, but some comments from Tami's Clock say it isn't Original Formula.

For now, Sea Breeze astringent, Original Formula, can now still be purchased online, but where to get it has become increasingly difficult.

Monday, August 11, 2008

High School Reunion Update

After a hectic 2 weeks, I wanted to update a posting no matter how brief it would be. I found out (not surprisingly) today that the 30-year reunion tentatively planned for this month is to be combined with the all class reunion scheduled for October.

Because I'm committed to a Bermuda cruise to celebrate my parents' 50th wedding anniversary in the same month, it is likely I won't attend. The person planning the reunion has been ill and wasn't able to do much. I'm puzzled because there were 4 people on the planning committee for the 25-year reunion and not sure why someone else didn't step in.

I'm a bit disappointed as I attended the 10 and 20-year reunions and had a blast each time. I seem to be among the minority that actually had fond memories of high school. Yes, there were the cliques, peer pressure, and constant wondering where one was in the pecking order. I wasn't extremely popular, smart or athletic but did well enough in all of these that I managed to be remembered among my classmates many years later. Of course, being one of only 3 Asians in my graduating class certainly didn't hurt either.

As I've gotten older, family gatherings mean a lot more. High school reunions don't come often but family comes first.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bag Hag

Tonight I ordered 2 bags online. My first stop is always eBags. I've been a customer of theirs for at least 10 years. I've been using exclusively the carry-on suitcase I bought from them at least 7 years ago for only $40 and like the Energizer bunny, it's still going strong.

This order from eBags is a bit different from my previous purchases. I noticed on the website a link at the bottom of the page for AAA members. It brought me to AAA's website and entered my zip code as requested. I was then brought back to eBags's site under the AAA/eTravel store link powered by eBags. The best part is that as an AAA member, I'm eligible for a 20% discount and free shipping for orders $75 and over. Way cool.

The Baggallini nylon bag pictured is one of the 2 items I ordered tonight. I got it at 20% off. but the second item, my Victorinox Lund (a mini-backpack to replace my faded Eagle Creek) was not. The total was just under $83, so I qualified for free shipping.

I ordered the nylon bag for my upcoming cruise with the family in October. Since this trip will last a bit more than a week, I'll need more clothing than my carry-on will fit. I've been flying for the past 3 years without checking in luggage and I'm not about to start now, especially since many airlines now charge for it. The bag folds into a pouch and plan to take with me in my carry-on. I will ship the rest of my clothing to Sherman before I fly out and pack them in the nylon bag once I'm in New York.

As for the new mini-backpack, I've been eyeing one for the past 6 months. My 10+ year old Eagle Creek is quite faded and lacks the compartments the newer mini-backpacks now have. I really liked The North Face's Pandora. It comes in a bunch of awesome colors, but it doesn't have what I liked about my Eagle Creek, an external water bottle holder. The Victorinox Lund has one, and all of the other requirements I wanted: padded shoulder straps, color, 2 storage sections and most importantly, it's small.

While the trip is still over 2 months away, it is never too early to plan ahead. Especially the way air travel is these days. I'll do whatever I can to minimize my time as cattle prod.

Monday, July 14, 2008


As previously written in my July 2 blog, the amount of spam I am now receiving has increased considerably since I opened a Facebook account. What puzzles me to no end is how many of the spam I'm getting address me as "Chia".

Oooh, my blood is boiling. My name is NOT Chia. Thanks to the lovely spam gods out there who now equate me to a ceramic animal figurine. Please stop. It's annoying and insulting.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

No Crunch/Fizz Zone

Since my gum surgery last Thursday, soft, mashed and pureed food have become my best friends. This is food I already enjoy and find quite satisfying. Specifically they included:
  • eggplant stir-fry & baba ganoush
  • hummus
  • mashed potatoes
  • ground beef or turkey
  • rice
  • pasta
  • scrambled eggs
  • oatmeal
  • soup

I've had to avoid crunchy food such as chips and nuts. My beloved Diet Coke has also been on hold because of the carbonation. While the recovery period hasn't made me miss work, the dull ache lingers enough not to workout this week.

Now I know what it's like for old folks without choppers. Something to look forward to in my golden years. Sigh.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Take Me Out To The Ball Game

Tonight we attended a late afternoon game at AT&T Park to see the San Francisco Giants versus the Los Angeles Dodgers.

While the rivalry is still fierce, but not the intensity I remembered at my first Giants-Dodgers game 24 years ago at Candlestick, the games are always fun to watch.

It didn't look good at first. Barry Zito, the much maligned pitcher, was the starter and gave up 2 runs in the first inning. But those were the only runs he gave up and it enabled the Giants to stay in the game. They scored 1 run in the 6th inning, then rallied with 4 runs in the 7th inning to win the game, 5-2. Zito ended up with 10 strikeouts and the victory.

We got to the game early and got to see batting practice. Munched on some yummy chicken tenders, garlic fries and Ghirardelli hot fudge sundae. Best way to spend a Saturday at the ball park.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


Many of you already know I setup a Facebook account last month. It's been great as I got invites from people I hadn't heard from in years.

While it could be coincidental, I've noticed my spam e-mails have increased considerably since the Facebook account opened.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Everyone gets spam and tons it of it. But getting repeated spam for the same products is what I'm noticing a lot more. Pepsi is a prime example. They spammed me 5 times with the same e-mail within 4 hours at least 3 times this week.

If the idiots really knew me, then they should know it's a lost cause. I'm a Diet Coke woman through and through.

graph courtesy of McAfee

Friday, June 27, 2008

Love? Thy Neighbor

As usual, I'm taking in my daily dose of absorbing useless information online. It gets me first round selection at trivia games and keeps me busy on Facebook movie quizzes. But this power must be harnessed and not abused. However, this is not to say that offers of food and/or money will be immediately refused.

While perusing tonight, I came across an article on a website that enables frustrated folks to air their gripes (anonymous postings are accepted) about their not-so-pleasant living experiences at

In the 2 years we've lived here, we have a neighbor that fits that description to a tee. Slamming car hoods at 1 a.m., visitors who park and/or block other neighbors' driveways, dog howling, persistent but futile attempts to start cars. Visually, the house is a major eyesore.

I haven't placed a posting yet, but I might find myself doing so immediately upon finishing this blog entry. Grrr...the car door(s) just slammed for the fourth and fifth time in less than 10 minutes.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

In the heat of the night

This past week we had the third heat wave in San Francisco in a little over a month. For me, this was the worst because it lasted almost 3 days. Hot days are usually, at most, 1 to 2 days.

Thursday night (6/19) I showered at the gym and again after I got home. It turned out not to be a good idea as it left my skin primed for ravenous mosquitoes. As it was last month, I ended up with at least a dozen bites on my arms and ankles. I slept probably all of 3 hours that night.

Friday night (6/20), was even worse. Evening breeze was non-existent. At 9:30 p.m., it was still 81 degrees outside. I was still sweating and decided to head to Crepevine to pick up a salad for a late dinner. I didn't eat the salad until at least 10 p.m. Because of Thursday's mosquito rampage, I decided not to shower. I wiped myself down with a cold towel and then sprayed insect repellent to ward off any further damage from the mosquitoes.

Yesterday morning (6/21), I pulled up all but one of the blinds in the living and dining rooms to keep out the sun. The only window blind left open was to accomodate a screen for ventilation. It was also my lookout for any incoming ocean breezes. I must have looked out every half-hour to see if fog was on the distant horizon. The ocean breezes started to pickup at about 11 a.m. Relief was in sight.

This morning, my old buddy Mr. Fog returned. Turned off the fans and closed the windows. My standard lounge attire of sweats, long sleeves and slippers cheerfully worn again. Che and Jawa no longer splayed across the rug.

Back to a typical summer day in San Francisco!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A blast from the past

Today on my way home from work, I had to do a double take to make sure my contact lenses hadn't been inserted inside out. As I was approaching the exit at 19th Avenue/Highway 1 from 280, a Chevy Chevette appeared in the lane to the right of me.

Pardon my car's dashboard hogging the bottom of the screen. It's not easy snapping a picture while making sure I was maintaining my speed in the fast lane (yes, I was over 65 mph).

I haven't seen a Chevette in probably 20 years. Model year is likely from the mid to late 70's. I'm not sure if the owner drives this car full time, but it did appear to be in decent shape repainted in the color seen. This wouldn't be a car I'd necessarily want to preserve, so it's my guess it possesses some sort of sentimental value.

The pathetic part is that I would have been of driving age when the car first came out. Ouch.

Monday, June 16, 2008

My Andy Warhol moment

If any of you read my Twitter postings late last week, KPIX (CBS-5) contacted me to be interviewed for "Eye on the Bay", a local newsmagazine. They found me when they entered "fog blog" into Google. My blog came up first in the search results. They were looking for bloggers who live and/or write about fog in San Francisco.

The interview took about an hour to complete. They had me read some of my recent Twitter postings, took shots of me typing on my laptop, and actually had me walk on 9th Avenue and Kirkham Street to answer a few questions about my thoughts on fog.

I apologize if this posting sounds a bit vague and distant. But as I'm finding my blog has reached a lot more people than I would have ever imagined, I need to omit certain details to preserve the privacy of others, including my own. I have always been a very open person, but I also know these days I have to watch what I say. It's easier to withhold rather than retract.

The segment is due to air sometime in the fall. It's very likely to be a short segment, so don't plan on getting too excited. I've never seen myself on TV, and I'm already worried I'll look fat. On HD. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Situation normal

This past week, we had another warm spell. Not like it was last month where temperatures in San Francisco reached record highs in the mid 90's. But for a longtime fog resident (11 years in the Sunset & 14 years in the Richmond district), this was uncomfortable.

The picture of the lovely fog returning was taken on my way (Portola Drive) to work this morning. As I said on Twitter this morning, a welcome sight for my sore eyes.

Monday, June 09, 2008

SF Bay Area's microclimates

As we reach summer here in the San Francisco Bay Area, the temperature ranges are at their most extreme. Today, the temperature in San Mateo was 20 degrees warmer than San Francisco. A year or two ago, I blogged about my commute home and detailed the temperature readings. I've lived here for almost 25 years and still find this fascinates me.

Even in San Rafael, the largest town in Marin county, has major temperature ranges. Whenever we head to the Tretakoffs, it can 5 to 8 degrees warmer from where we exit (Central San Rafael) compared to when we reach their house (near McNear's Beach).

Today's commute home (temperature readings from my car's thermometer):
  • Leave the office in San Mateo (near Hillsdale Blvd.) at 5:05 p.m. Car thermometer reading: 83 degrees.
  • Head north on Highway 101 (not "the 101". We are NOT in L.A.). Temperature at 3rd Street Exit: 85 degrees.
  • Another 3 miles north, now in Burlingame. Temperature: 80 degrees.
  • Two miles more, in Millbrae: 77 degrees.
  • Now at the San Francisco International Airport exit. Temperature is now 72 degrees.
  • Now on Highway 380 heading to 280 in San Bruno: 67 degrees.
  • Drive about 8 miles until I reach the 19th Avenue/Highway 1 exit: 63 degrees.

Many times once I reach 380, the fog kicks in full force. The sun disappears and the cold air is blowing strongly. I like my fog. Today it cooled off, but no fog.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Los Angeles Times

As a San Francisco resident for almost 25 years and frequent visitor to New York City (parents and brother live there), I consider myself a urbanite. So that I get an idea of what's going on in my favorite big cities, I've had bookmarked SFGate and the New York Times for several years. This past year, I added the Los Angeles Times.

For me, 2 reasons:
1. Timothy Parker's online crossword puzzle.
Updated daily and 3 colossal crosswords published on Sundays. My crossword fix is achieved sans pencil and/or ink smears and dog-eared paper (from too much erasing).

2. The entertainment section.
Entertainment is what put Los Angeles on the map. My favorite feature within the entertainment section are the photo galleries. A recent one titled, " 'Indiana Jones' and the Rip-offs of Doom" contains a selection of photos accompanied with a story. Numerous other photo galleries links from previous publications are also listed. Reading these hones my movie/TV trivia skills.

If nothing else, it also gives me perspective on how different these cities are to San Francisco and why I live here.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Foster City library

I took my car this morning to Costco in Foster City to get my tires rotated. I bought the tires at the South San Francisco/Daly City location about 2 years ago which includes free rotation and balancing for the lifetime of the tires.

The first time I rotated the tires in SSF/DC, it took about 3.5 hours. I did shop while waiting, but shopping for me at Costco never takes more than an hour. I was able to kill another hour with a magazine to read, but still had another 30 to 60 minutes before my car was ready.

Now knowing I had at least 3 hours to kill, I researched nearby wi-fi spots to Costco locations. The nearest wi-fi in Daly City was the library at Serramonte. But it's about 2 miles away and would require me to sprint across multiple lanes of traffic to get there. Foster City's library was only 2 blocks away from the nearest Costco, so I decided to head there.

It's been probably 15 years since I last visited a public library. The only other public library I've been to in San Mateo county was Millbrae, which was a decent size. Foster City's is much larger. Free wi-fi is all over the library, and there's 6 tables with outlets specifically for plugging in laptops. There's 3 plug-in outlets on each side, so one could conceivably set up an office while there. There's also a few desktop computers with free internet access, and not surprisingly, all of them were occupied.

I left the library after about 2.5 hours. The heating/cooling system was rattling loudly and so was my stomach. I headed back to Costco and picked up a quick lunch. My car was just being worked on, so I spent another half-hour and picked up some cold cuts and cheese. I checked back at the tire center around 2 p.m., immediately got my keys and departed for home.

All in all, a fairly productive day. It was so much better to kill time at the library as opposed to the cemented stoop at Costco's Tire Center.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Bite me

Well, that's what the mosquitoes did during our hot spell last week. I currently have at minimum 15 red welts on my arms and legs from the carnage. Mosquitoes have always loved me from the time I was a child. I really think my scent somehow whets their appetites. As a teenager, I had bites so bad that it swelled my eye shut.

As Chico Escuela would say, "Fog is bery, bery good to me..."

Friday, May 09, 2008

August 2008 high school reunion

Yesterday, I got a e-mail notifying me a new guest "signed in" to view my profile. I don't have too many, but it's nice to know who visited. It was one of the guys from my graduating class. He was one of the popular guys, so the 17-year old in me got a thrill out of it.

I then noticed a bulletin board posting from another classmate who mentioned that a 30-year reunion (OK, so you now know how old I am) is currently being planned for this August. I attended the 10 and 20 year reunions and had a lot of fun. As it stands now, I should be able to attend the 30-year reunion.

If the reunion does indeed take place in August, I'll be faced with the challenge of finding attire to look hot in and stay cool.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

An Unforgettable Act of Sportsmanship

As a former softball junkie and torn ACL victim, a college softball game played earlier this week between Central Washington and Western Oregon grabbed my attention.

Western Oregon's Sara Tucholsky hit her first home run with 2 runners on base. After Sara rounded first base, she tripped and tore her ACL. The umpires told Western Oregon Sara would not be able to score with help from anyone on her team. Western Oregon's coach asks the umpires if she can make a substitute. They tell her no. It later is determined the call is incorrect, but in no way does it diminish what transpires next.

Mallory Holtman, Central Washington's first baseman, asked the umpires if she and a teammate (shortstop Liz Wallace) could carry Sara to touch the bases to make the home run official. It brought tears to my eyes and reinforces why playing sports isn't always about who wins.

Central Washington lost the game. What Mallory and Liz did would have NEVER happened in a men's game. Period.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Scream for Ice Cream, the sequel

It has been a little over a week since my I raved about Dreyer's Slow Churned Butter Pecan. Well, the next trip to the grocery store was last weekend, and we tried a new flavor, Take The Cake. It tastes just like yellow cake. Sprinkles included. MMMMMMMM.....

Luscious, tasty, satisfying. Not overly sweet and definitely fulfilling. My compliments to the flavor developers at Dreyers. You're coming up with some yummy tasting ice cream at half the guilt. I'm jealous of the tasters that work at the plant. If any of you should happen to call in sick, I'd be more than willing to sit in for you pro bono.

Gotta scoop me up a bowl right now.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Old is new again

I first heard this song this past Sunday on the drive home from the gym on KLLC-FM (Alice 97.3 FM). I heard it again on the drive home from work today and have been singing the song all evening. The singer is Duffy (Wales native, first name Aimee), song title is "Mercy".

This is the first time in 10 years I was so taken with a song as soon as it came on. To me, the sound is a mix of Aretha Franklin and the Supremes in their prime. The last song to get me hooked so quickly was The Tragically Hip's "Poets" in 1998.

I know I'm old. From what I'm reading on the internet, the song has been out since January. As a teenager, hearing a song that's 3 months old would have been considered ancient.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

We all scream for ice cream

I really feel sorry for those that are lactose intolerant. As a passionate cheese lover, I'd weep for days mourning the loss of grilled cheese sandwiches, a slice of Swiss with my turkey on wheat, or milk to dunk my Oreos in. Most of all, the oozing, warm sensation in a Gordo's flour quesadilla with shredded pork.

The other loss would be ice cream.

In the past year, Dreyer's has put on the market their line of reduced fat and sugar flavors marketed under "Slow Churned Rich & Creamy". Other brands I've had of "reduced fat" = "reduced taste". While it isn't god-awful like lowfat cheese, it doesn't satisfy like real ice cream does.

I then started to notice how often I was seeing "Slow Churned Rich & Creamy" flavors showing up in the checkout lines. I finally asked a woman in front of me if the ice cream was any good. She said yes, but not the enthusiastic-jumping-up-and-down kind of yes I was hoping to get. It wasn't until they went on sale that I finally put one into my cart.

Mint Chocolate Chip was the first flavor I got. It is one of my favorite flavors of ice cream. This version is good, but not great. Better than most reduced fat ice creams I've had. Almost as satisfying as premium ice cream. Now I understand the woman's reaction in the checkout line. Then a limited edition of peppermint came out during the Thanksgiving-Christmas season. Oh man.

And this past week, Butter Pecan. I really like it. An "oh man" in my book. Standard versions of Butter Pecan ice cream are usually too syrupy and rich for my tastes. But Dreyer's version does it right. Enough to satisfy my fix, but not too much that I have to be wheeled out on a gurney. I had some last night and finished the remainder in the carton this morning.

For a middle-aged foodie, it's enough to hold me over until my next visit to the grocery store.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Hollywood Chinese

Last night, I went to go see Arthur Dong's documentary, "Hollywood Chinese" at the Sundance Kabuki.

As an avid art house film goer, trivia geek and American of Chinese ancestry, this was my kid-in-a-candy-shop kind of film. In general, I find documentaries fascinating and very informative. What made this film standout was the history of Chinese and Chinese-Americans in Hollywood cinema.

This included the "first" official Hollywood film featuring Chinese-Americans, pioneer Anna May Wong, and extremely insightful and candid interviews from a who-who's list of Chinese in cinema that included: Tsao Chin, Lisa Lu, Nancy Kwan, James Hong, Amy Tan, Wayne Wang, Ang Lee, Justin Lin, B.D. Wong and Joan Chen.

As discussed in Jeff Adachi's "The Slanted Screen" (2006), the documentary touched upon the not so positive portrayals of Asians in cinema. But "Hollywood Cinema" goes further. It points out the strong, prominent roles native Chinese such as Chow Yun-Fat, Jet Li and Jackie Chan have gotten in recent years. American born actors such as Michael Wong (Russell's brother), Lee-Hom (Alexander) Wang, and Maggie Q had to go to Asia to get the meaty roles they were unable to get at home.

Had I been born and raised in California, I think my calling would have been in film. Since I wasn't, documentaries like "Hollywood Chinese" fulfill for me "what could be".

photo courtesy of DeepFocus Productions

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Bugs Bunny - Daffy Duck - Elmer Fudd trilogy

I watched this on YouTube last night and it brought back a ton of fond memories. This animated trilogy is one of the funniest of all time. I laugh so hard everytime I watch. Enjoy.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Goodbye, Columbus (oops, I mean Skybus)

I just learned today that Columbus, OH based Skybus Airlines shut down operations. As a Columbus native, this airline provided the best option to fly direct to my hometown. It never happened. Skybus opened just about a year ago (refer to previous blog posting) and after I lost my job, planning a trip to visit Cindy got pushed down the priority list.

Now it's back to the dreaded spoke-and-hub system to visit Columbus. Another reason why I haven't gone back to Buckeye country in 2 1/2 years. Run my butt off to the other side of the terminal to dodge an endless sea of pedestrians, strollers and luggage to catch a connecting flight due to depart in 15 minutes is not my idea of fun.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

another sports jock ad

Be honest. At the beginning of this TV ad, how many of you initially thought the person was a man in drag?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Largest cities in 9 Bay Area counties

As mentioned in yesterday's blog, I asked if anyone could name the largest city from each of the 9 San Francisco Bay Area counties. It's likely you would have told me to go jump in a lake because I've got nothing better to do with my time. But, for those who eat up this kind of useless information, here they are:

1. Santa Clara - San Jose
2. Alameda - Oakland
3. Contra Costa - Concord
4. San Francisco - San Francisco
5. San Mateo - Daly City
6. Sonoma - Santa Rosa
7. Solano - Vallejo
8. Marin - San Rafael
9. Napa - Napa

I actually did contemplate making future entries with trivia questions, but Cliff Claven immediately came to mind. A female Asian-American Cliff Claven. Not someone I would exactly look up to or aspired to be as a child.

Perish the thought.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

San Francisco Bay Area counties

This August will be my 25th year as a San Francisco resident. Wow, a quarter of a century. When I first moved here, the San Francisco Bay Area was just over 4 million residents.

The 2000 census for the 9 county region was 6.7 million. As of July 2006, Wikipedia lists the population at 7.2 million, making it the 5th largest metropolitan area in the U.S.

Geez, that's almost double the size since I first moved here. Despite the high cost of living and the highly competitive job market, I still wouldn't live anywhere else.

Once I started reading about each of the counties, it piqued my curiosity where they ranked in terms of population. When I tallied up the numbers, it really didn't come as a surprise to me. They are (taken from 2000 census listed in Wikipedia):

1. Santa Clara
2. Alameda
3. Contra Costa
4. San Francisco
5. San Mateo
6. Sonoma
7. Solano
8. Marin
9. Napa

Bonus: Can you name the largest city from each county? I know these can be found on the internet, but if you've lived in the Bay Area long enough, at least 5 of them should be obvious. Answers will be posted tomorrow.

Monday, March 17, 2008

What not to wear

At lunch today, I headed to Hillsdale Mall to exchange a blazer I ordered online from J.Jill. I seem to be buying a lot of their clothes lately. Like Eddie Bauer, most of the clothes at regular price are too expensive, so I wait for them to go on sale when the price becomes much more reasonable.

Once I found another blazer (also on sale) to exchange, I was at the counter waiting for the associate to ring up my total, another woman came up to buy a sweater. She initially wasn't going to get it, then she changed her mind. What caught my attention was that she bought the sweater in a size small. Not usually a problem, but the woman was at least my size if not bigger. I'd be bursting seams out of most size small sweaters. She said buying the sweater would make her go on the diet she should be on already.

To me, this makes no sense. I'd wager the $70 she spent on her sweater that she'll never wear it. She'll end up giving it to a friend or donating it. On the other hand, if this was a wedding dress the diet would have started last year. Women wanting to look slender in their wedding dress, that's another part of womanhood I never got. Bust your butt for a year to fit into a dress that several sizes too small for an event that lasts for ONE FRIGGING DAY. Sorry, missy, I have more important things to think about.

After I left J.Jill, I headed to the food court to grab lunch. There's a Japanese place that makes a pretty mean chicken teriyaki bowl (I go light on the teriyaki) that I frequent. On my walk there, I must have seen at least 3 teens wearing henleys and sweaters with the buttons ready to burst. While it's not OK to wear something baggy and hanging, there are more girls that think it's acceptable to wear clothes 2 sizes too small.

Once I got my food, I sat down at one of the tables and in front of me was a girl, probably no older than 20. She was wearing a heavy waist-length fleece lined coat in flip-flops with her midriff showing from the back of her low-cut jeans. I really don't get it. Wear REAL SHOES + top long enough to cover backside = no heavy coat.

When I finished lunch, I got up to leave and I saw two women wearing what looked like their pajamas trying to decide where to eat. Both were in sweats. One of them was wearing a long-sleeved undershirt with no bra underneath. And she wasn't exactly flat-chested.

Where are Stacy and Clinton when you need them?

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Red leather recliners are here!

At 11:20 a.m. this morning, I heard outside the window a truck stopped on the street. Like Ralphie on Christmas morning, I immediately went to the window to see if the truck was from Macy's. It was. My Red Ryder BB guns arrived.

The delivery guys brought up and assembled the guns, uh, recliners in about 10 minutes.  .

The rug from (which replaces the torn one from should arrive in the next 1-2 days.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Pupsicles at the Iditarod

While reading my morning news, I sometimes take at a look at SFGate's Day in Pictures. The picture, courtesy of AP, is taken from this year's Iditarod.

As a mainlander, I know very little about the Iditarod. I went to their website today and it's chock full of information on anything and everything about this longtime winter event. If you buy from the Iditarod store, the purchase is put into a sled rather than a shopping cart.

The race is currently in Day 8, which is about halfway before the finish. If I can convince myself to brave the cold (it's 4 degrees Fahrenheit in Nome right now), I would love to see this event.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

sunset in the Sunset

I left work around 5:10 this evening and had a 6:30 appointment for a cut and color in the Outer Sunset with my longtime hairdresser Lucy. I've been a client of Lucy's since 1985.

I got to Lucy's salon (Virtuoso) at about 6, so I had about a half-hour to kill. I sat in the car listening to my CD and then began to notice a really nice sunset. So I pulled out the cameraphone and took the shots seen on this blog entry.

All of the pics were taken while sitting in my car on Judah Street and 32nd Avenue facing west. The first pic is my view from the driver's seat. The second pic is the sunset from my rearview mirror, and the last pic is the N-Judah streetcar taken across the street speeding east.

Not bad for a cameraphone.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Rain, snow or fog + wipers on = Headlights ON

It would seem many drivers in California still don't know since summer 2005, one must have headlights turned on when windshield wipers are in use due to rain, snow or fog. On my 15-minute drive to the gym today, I must have seen at least 7 cars without their headlights turned on.

These are probably the same drivers that talk incessantly on their cell phones and hold up traffic because they are engrossed more on their conversation than they are on driving.

Please turn on your headlights. This is to make yourself visible to other cars, pedestrians and cyclists. And while you're at it, hang up, shut up and drive. It can wait until you've reached your destination.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Neti pot update

It's been a bit over a week since I first began using the neti pot in hopes to wean myself off nasal sprays. I'd been off Rhinocort for about 4 days and only took oral antihistimines. My travel neti pot arrived today from Amazon, so it reminded me to provide an update.

Unfortunately, life without nasal spray didn't last long. A few days later, my nose felt like it did after swimming when water gets inside. My head felt congested and my throat sore. It was time to return to a nasal spray. This time, Nasonex. The good news is that unlike Flonaise, Nasonex works. Flonaise burned and stinged and had no effect whatsoever for me. Nasonex didn't. I started to feel the effects of it almost immediately. I'll save at least $15/month by switching my prescription to Nasonex.

In conclusion, the neti pot is a great supplement to nasal spray, but not enough to rely upon completely alone. For me, it will be an effective aide should my allergies go through really bad patches when sprays and pills aren't quite enough.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Nasal spray vs. Neti pot

If you've been following me this week on Twitter, I just began using the neti pot to treat my chronic sinus problems. My original intent was to switch to Nasonex, but remembered an unsuccessful attempt to switch to Flonaise about 10 years ago. I then decided this would be a good time try out the neti pot. Perhaps this could wean me off nasal sprays completely.

It's been 4 days since I stopped using Rhinocort and started administering jala neti (nasal irrigation). The last time I was without Rhinocort was during a conference in Fort Worth, TX in 2003 and my sinuses were miserable. The use of the neti pot so far has been quite effective. While I'm blowing my nose a bit more than usual, I've been able to breathe through both nostrils REGULARLY and not sneeze as much.

So far, I have yet to hear any negative results of using the neti pot. I've had relief from watery, itchy eyes by using contact lens saline solution as a rinse, so it made perfect sense to try the same process for my nose. After all, sneezing and watery eyes are the body's reactions to rid itself of pollen and other allergens. The neti pot only speeds up the process to prevent the uncomfortable reaction.

I'm hopeful continued use of the neti pot will further reduce sneezing and nose blowing to a bare minimum. Benefits for the body and wallet. Rhinocort was $50/prescription at my previous employer and is $35/prescription at my current one. I've since ordered a second neti pot (non-breakable) that I'll be able to take with me when I travel. I'm still taking oral antihistimines. That might be something I'll still have to continue using. Updates to follow.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Ms. Money Bags (for now)

We're on a rampage. Now that I'm back to work with leftover severance and an upcoming $3K tax refund, there were numerous big ticket purchases over the past 2 weeks.

Above is the quilted laptop bag. It is my new, girly and sophisticated briefcase bought today (in black) from Edwards Luggage called the Knomo Toyah. I'll be taking my first business trip in my new job to attend a conference in Atlanta next month.

Because I was issued a company laptop, I know I'd need to take it with me. I could have ordered a bag from the office, but I wanted a bag with style. And something I would be proud to carry my Sony Vaio in if needed.

I was very selective about the requirements. No leather. Too heavy. I'd been carrying a gorgeous Coach leather messenger bag for about 5 years. I'd been carrying Coach leather purses for even longer and switched to jacquard fabric about 3 years ago. Man, what a difference in weight. Wear and tear is less visible too. Bag also had to be sleek yet roomy enough to carry my papers and checkbook.

The Knomo Toyah fit the description perfectly. It's lightweighted professional elegance. It will also serve double duty as my purse when I travel on business. This will keep intact my ability to carry-on luggage only. I can't wait to carry it to work with me on Monday. Like Tiffany & Co., there is a unique serial number given to each bag and can be registered online. I did that once I got home.

Third of the big ticket purchases is a new coffee table. 

Last big ticket purchase today was our leather recliner chairs. After admiring Josh's and Amy's Mission-styled recliners for years, we thought that's what we wanted in our place. I found some leather ones online at Macy's this past week and went for a test drive.

There was another recliner in red (Pavia Club Style, as shown in picture) which looked like a regular leather chair. This is what grabbed my attention. I reclined back and it felt very comfortable. It's unassuming and multi-tasks well as a chair and a recliner. I phone ordered it tonight about an hour ago. It's on backorder but will be delivered around the first week of March.

Next is the installation of wall cabinets in the bathroom.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

First Week

Yesterday was my first week at my new job. So far, I've been very impressed. There is a huge difference coming from a struggling company to one that's doing well. When I started my previous job 6 years ago, I took a $12K cut in pay. I accepted this current job at $9K more than what I earned before my last one ended.

Day 1: Spent first few hours going over benefits package. I can opt for Kaiser or Blue Cross for medical coverage. Kaiser is free. Blue Cross for single coverage is $35/month. I was paying $90/month at my previous employer. When I reached my 5-year anniversary, it was reduced to $65/month.

Got my tour, introductions to my department associates. Around 3 p.m., IT comes by with my computer, a brand NEW laptop in a humongous cubicle in the back row. I notice later that most managers get the larger, back cubicles. This is my first job with "manager" in the title. Woo hoo!

At my previous job, I got a 7+ year old desktop (eventually replaced) with an even older screen monitor. It was inside a cubicle with a crappy desk chair which took 3 years before the mailroom guy took pity on me and gave me a new one. In 6 years, I moved at least that many times. And each time I moved, I'd be down for a day because I had a card terminal and dinosaur dial-up modem that required a specific phone line routed within my cubicle. When I left the company, I still had the SAME monitor.

Day 2: Attended first all-hands company meeting. CFO introduces me as "the blogger" and one of two new members of the Finance/Operations/Business Systems team. Found the vending machine only charges $0.25 for soda. Twelve cans would only cost me $3, still less than what Safeway or Target charge for the Diet Coke cartons I used to buy because the vending machine charged $0.65 at my old office.

Day 3: Sit in my first meeting with the other departments I'll interact with regularly. My reporting manager also issues a companywide e-mail with yet another introduction. I get over the next 3 days numerous return e-mails from various staff members welcoming me. I am floored at the warm reception. I found it interesting that all of the welcome e-mails except one are from men. Hmmm....

Day 4: Receive my first assignment to follow up with customer phone messages. It is likely in response to a recent mailing they received and have questions about it. I check to see if I have the correct resources to provide answers to the customer inquiries.

Day 5: Contacted and spoke to 3 customers. Two had questions I could address, but bring up other questions where I need to go back and find out the answers. It's bagel Friday at the office, so I grab a bagel and half a muffin as an afternoon snack. I also am asked to draw numbers for the office Super Bowl pool, so there is verification that we are "SOX compliant".

Overall, it is a major contrast from where I worked previously. The office is brand new, having only moved this past August. Friendly, warm, and many of them very smart. I have underground parking. A credit union ATM (co-op'd with mine and no-fee access), upscale grocery store, restaurants and free gym (courtesy of the company) are all in the same complex.

The last time I worked an office this cushy was during the dot-com days with a company that failed to generate enough revenue to stay in business. The company where I am now has been around for 10 years and a profitable business model. At least so far, I earn more money and don't have to work nearly as hard.

Life is tough. NOT.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Returning to work

Tomorrow, I start my new job at a high-tech company in San Mateo. The job has everything I could ask for: excellent location, salary and benefits. The company has been around 10+ years and is in growth mode.

Finding this job took me about 3 months (technically 4, but I don't count the month between Thanksgiving and New Year's where no company does much), which is about how long it's taken me to find work after my previous layoffs. I've been very fortunate to receive generous severances from each of the layoffs. Without it, I would not have had the luxury to be selective about where my next job would be.

Bottom line, losing a job sucks. But living in the pricey San Francisco Bay Area, layoffs, job elimination, and companies dissolving or relocating is a fact of life. For me, being in the same job in this area for an entire career area is naïve, and will get me nowhere if I want to advance.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Neti Pot

As seen on Oprah and written in the New York Times, the longtime Indian practice of nasal irrigation, also known as jala neti, has recently gained wide exposure. As a longtime allergy sufferer, it caught my interest. In the 20 plus years I've been in California, my allergies are usually at their worst between January and April. So far this year it hasn't affected me much.

But if and when it does strike, I may very well find myself heading out to the nearest drug or health food store looking for one of these mini genie lamps and performing this necessary but not-so-pretty looking ritual over the bathroom sink.

Happy cleansing!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

2008 so far

It's been a week since I last wrote. I went shopping crazy again, taking advantage of after-holiday clearance sales to stock up on 2 more suits at Eddie Bauer and Levi's at Kohl's. I got some nice e-mails from friends and family with updates on their activities.

If you've been following me on Twitter, most of my recent activity has been interviewing with Epocrates, a software company in San Mateo. I had 2 interviews last week. I'll be going to my third interview this Tuesday. Prospects on joining them look promising. I applied to them over a month ago, so when I heard from them last week, I was pleasantly surprised.

Because most of my career has been in retail, I didn't have high hopes that software companies I applied to would find my experience suitable. Then again, I do live in an area where high-tech dominates the region. I'd never know unless I tried.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Online chat at Comcast

As you may have seen on my Twitter entry today, the Toshiba Regza 47" LCD flatscreen arrived today. Two men brought the TV up, took it out of the box and hooked our cable box to the TV. We were watching TV within 5 minutes.

As they were leaving, they asked if it was OK to take the empty box as well. Wow. I guess I'm still remembering my days at The Sharper Image when you had to pay additional shipping to get exercise equipment beyond curbside delivery. At least for this recent experience, things have changed for the better.

Once the TV was on, it was verified that digital cable isn't set up for HDTV tried calling, but a recording at Customer Service after a few minutes said their circuits were busy due to the storm and disconnected the line. I then went to Comcast's website online and ordered the service.

Not more than a minute after I purchased the service, Comcast's website prompted a message that a Customer Service rep would chat live online with me. A nice guy named Cecil came online and after we exchanged pleasantries about San Francisco's rainstorms, he confirmed that I purchased HDTV to add to my existing service. At the time I ordered HDTV online, the earliest available date I could get was Monday, January 14. When I was chatting with Cecil, he told me an earlier appointment could be scheduled for Tuesday, January 8.

Cool. It's been scheduled between the hours of 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Not in time to see the Ohio State - LSU Bowl Championship Game on Monday (which would have been awesome), but I'll see the game on a bigger screen than the one we have now.

In contrast to my experience with Red Envelope over the holidays, my online chat experiences with REI and Comcast were very positive. It seems rather apparent Red Envelope didn't train and prepare very well their service reps to handle online chats. With REI and Comcast, I got an immediate response and much, much quicker service than I would have on the phone.