Monthly Archives: November 2007

Hand-Me-Down Workaround

Hand-Me-Down Workaround

As most of you know, Bubbey got the iPhone pretty much a day or two after it came out. That was what, last June? As a result of his upgrade, he abandoned Verizon and his Palm Treo. I know, I should have jumped on this bandwagon way back then, but I’m just now coming to embrace the mobile phone. I mean, sure I had one in China where I used it frequently, particularly for SMS. But here, I saw very little need for a regular plan. First, not only have people been extremely slow to catch on to SMS, but second, I didn’t really have phone buddies. Most of my phone buddies got lazy on me when I moved overseas in late 2003. John and I set up the Vonage line within a few months, but the calls still never came. Blame it on the time change, the life changes, whatever. Vonage ended up just being a line where our families could call to make sure we were still alive.

Since moving back (it’s been over a year already), we’ve kept the Vonage line, and I’d have to say, we’re using it more for outgoing calls but again, without friends in the area and with lame friends outside the area (who don’t call), again, it’s been relatively low traffic.

But now that I have my new activity buddies and I’m starting to chat it up more with my former coworkers, I’m thinking the mobile phone could become more convenient. Plus, with the 1-hour commute home and the time difference with the east coast, this thing could get a lot more play. To date, I’ve been on the T-Mobile prepaid using my Sony Ericsson clunker from 2004. It’s still a decent phone but voice quality could be better and the prepaid minutes are getting a bit old as well.

So this weekend, I decided to put Bubbey’s orphaned Treo to work. I did a buttload of research on the Verizon data-only plan. That’s right: I’m going without the voice plan. Yes, this is a whole new level of cheap, from John’s point of view, but I’m just excited to test out a new workaround. And from my research, there are others who have done the same, although most are Blackberry peeps I think. Anyway, I turned on data service yesterday, and now my Treo is all hooked up with my email and calendars. I’m thrilled to be back with some form of PDA organization. As for my voice service workaround, I’m using Skype for mobile. I’ve run into a few complications… Skype to Skype is quite good; however, Skype to mobile/landline is another story. In addition, I have concerns with battery life, staying logged in to receive calls (for those of you who have me on Skype, please accept my apologies for the psychotic log ons and offs all weekend long…), and well, accessibility. John insists that he needs a way to call me anytime, anywhere. Frankly, we still have trouble connecting even with two voice plans (for example, his phone won’t ring or mine will go straight to voicemail). Plus, what’s the huge deal.. he can still send me a text. Well, all of that is still under debate. But in the short term, I’m going to test this thing out. See how far it gets me. I’m thinking it’s got to work.

Through all this research, I’ve discovered some other cool programs. I have to say, Yahoo! mobile is not bad. Google has its parred down version for mobile phones, but Gmail mobile is not nearly as pretty as Yahoo’s. Also, I found myself a nifty little GMobileSync, which puts my Gmail calendar into the Treo calendar. Good for organizing my appointments and such. Anyway, I’m having fun. If any of you want to give me a buzz on Skype to try out the quality, search for me via email address and add me as a contact.

Turkey Day Dinner

Turkey Day Dinner

John had been itching for some of his mom’s traditional Thanksgiving dishes, so this year we decided we’d go full force and prepare the feast. Mind you, it was likely going to be just the two of us and the smallest turkey out there weighed over 12 lbs., but well, bubbey gets what bubbey wants. And Thanksgiving is all about going overboard. Luckily, a few others came by with empty stomachs: Bri, Fonda, and Chuck added a bit of stress to the mix (there’s “edible for us” and “edible for others”), but all in all, I’m happy with the meal. Mom hooked me up with a killer you fan recipe– the Chinese spin-off of stuffing: shitake mushrooms, shallots, chestnuts in sticky rice. Was delish. Of course, with me every kitchen success comes with a kitchen failure. This year, the mashed potatoes suffered. I know, how can anyone possibly screw up mashed potatoes? Leave it to me, I tell you. It’s been a while, and well, “boil until just tender” was apparently not long enough. Yup, mashed potatoes with crunchy raw bits. Fortunately, there was plenty of food: fresh cranberry sauce, corn pudding, broccoli cheddar casserole, and TJ’s pecan pie with ice cream. Still, I’m going to try again later this week. I need to redeem myself.

The holiday was a nice respite for us. I’m starting to get a little bored though, so I’m glad tomorrow is back to work. John and I braved the crowds Saturday and did a little bit of shopping. Nothing major. Just some walking around after the big meal. On Saturday, we built a fire at home, played some Scattergories (which he keeps winning!), and watched a movie Catch and Release, with Jennifer Garner. Annoying movie. The protagonist discovers that her recently-deceased fiance had been carrying on with another woman and her kid for years. So the story was reminiscent of The Pilot’s Wife, but so NOT well done. First, Jennifer Garner was like angry for 5 minutes. Then she hooked up with the dude’s friend like a few days after the funeral. Wtf? The movie definitely sent me to bed pissy. Which might explain why both of us slept in until 11:30! I know, who does that right?

When we finally got moving, we felt all motivated, like we were going to make a healthy dinner with papaya salad. Well, just our luck, we went to two Asian markets– no green papaya. That’s the way things roll around here.

I Want to be a Wood Nymph

I Want to be a Wood Nymph

John and I headed to Santa Cruz this weekend for a short getaway. I found an awesome B&B tucked away in the mountains. Redwood Croft even takes dogs so Rem and Marts came along and had a blast running through 2+ acres of woods. At night, we hung out in our own private outdoor jacuzzi. Who knew so many stars still filled the sky? The place was perfect: no tv, no cell reception, but plenty of wifi. Ha, ha.

On Saturday, we went to Henry Cowell State Park next door and walked through an old growth redwood forest. The park had just rolled out free wifi… I know, I’m never one to turn down free wifi, but how weird is that? In the middle of a preserve? After our stroll amongst the ancient trees, we hit Bonny Doon winery. Did some tastings, signed up for our first wine club, and then moseyed into downtown Santa Cruz for a nice dinner at Risorante Avanti.

I cannot wait to go back to the B&B. Rent out the place with some dear friends, hang with the dogs, hike through the woods, soak in the jacuzzi, cozy up by the fire, play board games at night. How sweet a life is that?

On the drive home this afternoon, we stopped by Harley Farm, a place that makes goat cheese. We missed the tour, but that didn’t stop us from cramming plenty of bread and cheese samples into our pieholes. Left with like $40 worth of cheese. Gluttons, we are.

All in all, a busy but relaxing weekend. My boss returns from his 4-week vacation tomorrow. I’m ready to hit the ground running. Online store is just about ready. Yay.

Trial is Over

Trial is Over

My father’s trial ended today. The six-person jury was unable to reach unanimous consent, so that’s neither the best nor the worst outcome. Still, given the circumstances, the indecision seems relatively decent news. Now it’s all up to the insurance people and the opposing team: do they want to double down, settle, or fold? Hopefully, we’ll know in the next few weeks.

At least my family can chill out a bit now. Geez, they were all super stressed. Both mom and dad couldn’t sleep. Even Johnny stuck around a few extra days to help my father prepare and watch the trial. Now it’s time to decompress. At the end of the month, the parentals head back to Taiwan. Should be a pleasant respite.

As for me, my rock climbing class started last Wednesday. I don’t know what I was thinking… I mean, hello, I am scared of heights, and certainly a 30-foot wall constitutes a pretty high place. Ah well, something new to try, I guess. Face my fears or whatever.

The class ran about two hours, and god did I start to stress out about everything I had to learn: all the goddamn safety checks with the harness, the knotting, the roping, the grigri gadget or whatever. Seriously, what was I thinking? There is something very stupid about taking up a sport my personal safety relies largely on another person. Fortunately, Tina is someone I know and trust. But even then, it was very difficult letting go of the rock to dangle 30 feet in the air. I just kept thinking head trauma and brain damage.

Surprisingly, climbing itself wasn’t so bad, and my palms didn’t really get sweaty. Mostly, it was my feet. Those damn rock climbing shoes. They curled the frickin’ circulation out of my toes, and my feet hurt like hell. This week, I’m going to stretch those suckers out as much possible before the next class. Screw uncomfortable shoes. I’m not up on the feet binding thing.

As for the gym, it was a bit dingy but since I get a whole month’s membership as part of the class, you know me, I’m going to max out as much as possible. Yup, I’m going to work the yoga classes and the sauna room. The plan is to wake my ass up ultra early to squeeze those activities in before work. We’ll see how it all pans out. I’d better not get too ambitious too early: I still have to pass a test and get belay certified before the next class. I’m not too worried: I’ve already been practicing with knotting a shoestring. I know, I’m a nerd in everything I do.

Gotta Love the Dogs

Gotta Love the Dogs

Read this on Lainey Gossip (where I get my Hollywood fix), and it just cracked me up. She’s away on business, so this is her hubby’s update on their dog Marcus:
He’s a lazy f*cker. Came home from his walk and has spent the entire time sprawled out on the bed in one of a number of interesting positions at a time. Oh…and it was really cold, rainy and windy when we went out so he pisses on the first bush he can and starts telling me he wants to go back in. So I make him keep going, he turns the corner onto Blenheim and lays down the longest sh*t I’ve seen come out of the little fucker without breaking in pieces. This is how your dog operates. Then of course he took me down the alley shortcut and back into bed.

Work in Progress

Work in Progress

My father took to the stand last week, and the good news is, he did very well. Big sigh of relief. I knew he was going to overprepare the shit out of everything (that’s where I get my OCD…) but I was still uneasy about the other circumstances. Thankfully, my father thinks fast on his feet, so it sounds like his testimony was pretty solid. I have to say, I’m very proud of him. That shit is a lot to learn, and lawyers can really confuse the hell out of you with their obtuse questioning and deliberate choice of words. I used to be on mock trial, and obviously, that was just child’s play, but at least I had some level of exposure to the complex (and surprisingly strategic) realm of law. For my dad, it’s mostly just the waiting game now. The case continues all this week but his part is likely done. I’m hoping for the best come Friday.

In other news, I’ve been dubbed the Triple W at work: Wonderful Web Whiz or something geeky like that. For the last month, our organization has not been able to send email to AOL or Comcast users. Something about our domain getting onto a blacklist. Since our IT guy left last month, no one has really taken this up as something requiring attention. In the meantime, I’ve just been growing annoyed with it. Finally, I came up with a workaround in the interim. Gotta give it up for Gmail and its option to send email from another accounts (other domains). I earned crazy props for hooking people up to that feature. 🙂 Yay. Guess I’ll be around a bit longer. 🙂

Truthfully, the job has been loads of fun. I do all this research online for various features and tools and add-ons. We sent out our first HTML email blast last week. Looked pretty good, and the stats are fun to track. I know, I really need to watch myself because the job is starting to feed my already intense obsessions. Ah well, not to worry too much. I’m having a grand time.

This weekend Tina and I went to the GreenFestival. You will recall that last year I volunteered and got stuck in the veal box for four hours. This year, I decided to splurge the $10 for admission. Tina, as my newest activity buddy and friend, joined. And I think John was glad, because he has no stamina for events like that: large crowds, earthy/granola folks, vegetarian/vegan-only food options, etc. He’s progressive but not really. 🙂 Anyway, we had a blast stopping at some of the booths and chatting with the vendors. We picked up loads of free literature (to share). I have big plans for Tina and her hubby Josh. Game nights, BBQs, and finally, peeps to join my Costco Co-op. There’s also this organic food delivery service that I’ve been meaning to try but was worried because 1) it’s pricey and 2) we don’t consume THAT much fresh veggies and fruit. So now, we can split the cost and have a better chance of consuming all of it. I know, I’m a dork but seriously, these things get me all excited.

So the other cool thing about Saturday, is that I learned more about Tina. As I said before, she’s a landscape architect, but as she explained it, that’s a sub-specialty under space planning. I mean, who the hell even knew “space planning” was a subject or career, you know? But the point is, I went to her house and it was amazing: the decoration, the organization… I was totally blown away. I mean, I guess certain people have a knack for that– John’s sisters for example are phenomenal with it– but with Tina it’s sort of educational because she kind of explains why things work with the layout, positioning, contrasting, and texturing. She kind of makes it more scientific for me. I dunno, it just seems to make a little more sense. So John and I don’t care enough to be in Architectural Digest or anything, but a few tips here and there might improve the ambiance at home. I love having friends who know stuff; I learn so much from them.

So anyway, after the festival, Tina surveyed our home. I defended our Maker Faire bed (propped up on the Rubbermaid totes) and she agrees as long as I use a bedskirt… ha, ha, baby steps.

Unfortunately, coinciding with my new home project, is a slide in my style/dress department. How did this happen? I don’t know. I think it’s the whole chaos/disorder argument. If left to my own devices, my personal style deteriorates into chaos, hodge-podge. Plus, I’m sure working for a granola organization doesn’t help… It’s not good because the other night, John and Tina both arrived at the same conclusion (separately): my style, they say, is TJMaxx. Yup. Pretty bad. Might as well be Garage Sale. And now John keeps singing that stupid TJMaxx jingle. I’m rather exasperated. How can I keep up with trying to become the person I want to be? Active, outdoorsy, educated, aware, activist, stylish, organized, involved… Sigh. Oh well. Guess that’s why I got a job that allows me to have free time: I’m a continual work in progress. Thank goodness Pamela is moving to SoCal at the end of this year! I’m so pscyhed to have another dear friend in my neck of the woods. Just a hop, skip, and a jump away. It’s gonna be awesome.

A Bad Feeling

A Bad Feeling

You can never be too smug… here I was patting myself on the back for finally kicking my butt into gear. For once I was actually beginning to feel… dare I say it, happy even. Great job, decent commute, stable home life, fun activity calendar… Remy was all recovered, Bubbey was on the upswing… things were good.

Then I called my dad this evening. He’s involved in a medical malpractice case, and jury selection was today. Already, I had been a little worried about him having to testify, especially with English as his foreign language and all. Then he said his own attorney was extremely disappointed: the chosen jury was the worst he’d seen in his three decades practicing law. Ouch.

What was so bad about the chosen ones? Gender, education, and socio-economic status. I don’t really want to get into how those factors may or may not influence analysis and judgment, but I assume from a statistical viewpoint his attorney has a strong sense for how the votes will sway.

Based on my father’s take, he did the best he could. Among other things, she’s claiming disability. The surveillance tape shows otherwise but I’ll leave it at that. Obviously, I’m biased. But still, my father was, by many accounts outside of mine, the best OB/GYN in town. I trust that if there is a right and wrong here, he’s right and she’s wrong. But anyway, the whole thing just disturbs me.

You see, had he broken the news to me five, maybe ten years ago, I wouldn’t have even flinched. I would have completely trusted the system. I would have believed that whatever the outcome, the ruling would be fair and just. How quickly the world killed that naivety. I know better now. And so I worry. Not because of what my father will say in trial but rather what the jurors will hear. English is my native language; yet, I still cannot understand any film where English is spoken with the slightest British or Scottish or Irish accent. My father still has a strong accent: how the hell will people understand him? Even Bubbey, who has communicated with my parents regularly, frequently misses my father’s comments. Sometimes the dialog passes so quickly, it’s not even worth asking for a repeat. And this is what I fear: people won’t understand, and after a while, they’ll stop trying to understand. And then the case reduces to an English-speaking defendant vs. an incoherent foreigner. Ugh, the very thought pains me. I wish I could protect him. It’s not just about money, pride, and respect. There are so many deeper issues to consider: racism, prejudice, inequality, injustice. What is fair? What is just?

This evening as I bemoaned all of this, John revealed that he didn’t even return a call to report for jury duty. WTF??? I was pissed. First because he lied to me: he specifically told me he had called and the City said his services weren’t needed. Second, this was his civil duty. If I were involved in a case, I’d want someone like him to review the facts and make a decision. So ticked off.

Maybe I’m just being cynical about my father’s case. Maybe his attorney is wrong. Maybe the jurors will take this seriously and weigh their decisions carefully. Maybe I’m just working myself up for no reason.