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Archive for March, 2010

Last year, I traveled to Switzerland, Peru and Winnipeg (Canada) on vacation trips.  I ended up draining all of my holidays and dipping into 2010’s.  At the moment, I think that I currently have 3 days banked that I have earned since the start of the year.

However, that doesn’t mean I cannot travel.  For work, things have kind of ramped up nicely.  In February, I traveled to San Francisco for a conference where I presented.  In June, I will be going to New Orleans for a conference to present.  In September/October, I will be going to Vancouver to present at a conference.  That one’s going to be especially fun because the next day after the conference there is a Winnipeg Blue Bomber game at BC which I plan to attend.  And, today, I submitted a presentation to present at a conference in London, England, in October.  That one’s kind of a long shot and I don’t expect to get it.

I really enjoy presenting at these things.  What I do is I merge magic into my presentation and also spew out tons of stuff about fighting spam.  It combines things that I really enjoy doing and is a ton of fun.  Plus I get to try out new tricks.  And I also get to travel.  So here’s keeping my fingers crossed for London!

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This evening, myself and my quasi-girlfriend rented and watched the 2009 animated film Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.  It’s the story of a young scientist who makes plenty of inventions but they all happen to go wrong.  He tries to win the respect of his father but cannot.  Eventually, he hits upon a successful experiment that goes awry but in the end, he saves the day.  It’s very similar to Disney’s Chicken Little in terms of the story.

Despite its similar, I recommend it.  Not for its originality (it’s not that original) but for it’s very funny comedy value.  There were a number of times that I laughed out loud at it, there are some very clever one-liners and stuff that just makes you chortle to yourself.

If you haven’t seen it, you should.

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2002 vs 2010

In 2002, during my first trip around the world (London –> Singapore –> Melbourne –> Sydney –> Auckland –> Los Angeles –> Toronto –> London), I made a stop in San Francisco.  San Fran is a very nice place and while I was there, I got my picture sketched by a street artist.  Below is what I looked like back then (I still have that green shirt):

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This past February, myself and my quasi-girlfriend (girlfriend at the time) traveled to San Francisco.  I was there for a conference and I flew her down to join me on the weekend.  Once again, I had my picture sketched by a street artist, observe below how they capture my muscular frame and physique perfectly:

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What a difference 8 years makes.  What’s weird is that in my 2002 trip, I had gotten my hair colored with dark and light blond streaks and it is accurately reflected in the top picture.  In 2010, I did not have any hair coloring done at all, and yet my hair is a much lighter blond than it is in the first picture even though it is darker now than in real life.

Odd.

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Yesterday, I went to a so-called “Mustache” Party.  The idea was for everyone to wear fake mustaches, and there were mustache themed events.  It was quite a bit of fun.

One of my goals, for some reason, was to dress up as a Jewish rabbi for whatever reason.  And that’s what I did.  I went down to a costume store and bought a fake beard.  I then dug out an old wig that was rock star hair but in reality is simply black hair that flail everywhere.  I wore my magician’s bowler hat and then put on my suit with a white shirt, but no tie and left the top button undone.  I certainly looked like a rabbit, or at the very least, Amish.

Now, myself and my quasi-girlfriend (we’re more like very good friends now) are not drinkers.  I don’t like the taste of alcohol at all except for one – the White Russian.  This is a mixture of 1 part vodka, 1 part Bailey’s Irish Cream, and 1 part Kahlua.  It’s a very strong drink and I can’t have too much of it.  The two of us were at a friend’s place one time and he made it for us.  I didn’t have much but I was certainly feeling a bit of a buzz at one point.  Luckily I was having food with it and stopped as soon as I felt a little bit dizzy.  I stopped drinking for the next couple of hours because I still had to drive home.  My reflexes were still sharp but I knew that the drink was powerful.

But we both like White Russians.  So, we decided to bring the proper drinks to the party but since I am not a drinker, I was going to have to stop by the liquor store and pick them up because I have no alcohol in the house.  To demonstrate how much of a non-drinker I am, I had to phone up a friend and ask him where the liquor store was in town because I wasn’t quite sure.  I thought I knew, but had to confirm.  It was where I thought it was.  We headed down there and bought fairly small quantities of alcohol and this was another first for me – I have never bought alcohol for myself for the purposes of straight consumption (I think – I may have bought it for some desserts such as bananas flambé, but that doesn’t count).

We went into the liquor store in full costume.  I looked like a rabbi, and when I went to the checkout stand, I said “Shalom.”  The lady started laughing and asked what the occasion was, and we explained that we were on our way to a costume party.  The clerk at the other check stand even took a picture of us.  I handed over my debit card, swiped it, paid for it and we left the premises.

Here’s the thing – they didn’t ask for my identification.  And you know what else?  They didn’t ask me to remove my costume, either!  I was in full beard and wig with a hat, and for all they knew I could have been 19 years old (the drinking age in Washington state is 21).  And I got away with it!  Of course, being 31, it doesn’t really matter that much but the point is that I could have gotten away with it had I been younger.

I was pretty proud of that.

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One of the things I have been attempting to do for the past few weeks is eat at least one piece of fruit every day.  At the beginning, knowing myself, I wasn’t sure it was realistic so I scaled it back to 5 days out of 7.  Then I thought that was too easy, so I upped it to 11 days out of 14.  That’s enough to require me to take decisive action but not so much that if I miss one day, I feel too bad.  So far, I have been executing on this plan.

I recently went to QFC and bought a bag of oranges. They are quite small oranges and they are the kind I like.  I like it when oranges are small because the pieces all fit in my mouth at one time.  These ones were also very easy to peel.

I finished off that bag and headed down to Safeway wherein I picked up another bag of oranges. The problem is that these ones:

  1. … are slightly larger
  2. … have seeds
  3. … do not taste as good
  4. … are harder to peel.

Regarding that last point, I hate oranges that are difficult to peel.  They could be the best oranges in the world, if they are tough to peel I will skip them and buy something else.

Anyhow, this morning I had brought one from home to eat at work.  I unpeeled it and it was tougher to peel compared to the others.  I made the decision that I was not going to buy them anymore.  Anyways, the problem with oranges that are tough to peel is that when you have to work harder at it, you are naturally applying more pressure.  When you do that, you squeeze the orange harder and the juices tend to fly around a bit.  This orange was no different and I ended up getting a bunch of orange juice over my fingers.

But that is not the worst part.  Orange juice on the fingers is no big deal.  But the juice also kind of sprayed out onto my pants, around my mid-thigh.  And furthermore, it took me a while to notice.  It’s not overly bold in color, but it’s definitely there.  My clumsiness at peeling this sub-par orange (for some reason this one tasted bad) ended up making a mess on my clothes.  It won’t come off easily, I will have to wash these already recently washed pants.

The moral of the story is to be careful what fruits you buy, you could end up regretting it.

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More on body language

The other day, I was in a meeting with a problem customer of ours.  This is a customer that has given us headaches for many months now, so much so that I will never buy their product (even though they make good stuff).  I was in the call with another Program Manager, and I observed some pretty clear body language.

She is the one responsible for most of the call and therefore takes the most heat.  The customer was on the line, beating us up and she was responding to the statement (basically, they told us we suck and don’t know what we’re doing).  As she was listening, she was fidgeting with the ring on her finger, rolling it around over and over and over again.

This was pretty easy to decipher.  Fidgeting with your fingers, especially jewelry on your fingers in a situation like this is a clear sign of mental distress.  Of course, given the situation I could hardly blame her but it was easy to tell that even though she wasn’t saying anything, she was still uncomfortable.  A couple of times her hand went up to her throat, the little gap between the collarbones.  That is also a pretty clear tell of mental duress, especially among women.

Sometimes reading body language is pretty easy.  Not always, of course, but in this case yes.

Oh yes, the other PM I saw before has pretty consistent confident body language.  He is always stretched out, arms extended and legs extended too.  He exudes a sense of being in command, even when he is asking questions.  It’s interesting to watch.

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I was talking with a colleague from another division at work yesterday.  We were chatting and somehow we got on the topic of dancing.  I asked him “Are you a dancer?”

He indicated that he was.  I asked him what kinds of dances that he does and he named a few.  I can’t remember any of them except for hip hop, and I didn’t do any of the ones that he did.  He then said that he tried swing a few times, I assumed it was east coast swing.  One thing about swing dancing is that anyone ever says that they do swing dancing, it’s usually east coast swing (or a variant) because if it was west coast, they would explicitly say so.

Anyhow, he then mentioned that he was looking to get into salsa and tango.  I almost added that I did salsa but then said something else instead.  “Tango?”  I asked.  “Really?  That’s one of the tougher ones.”  I say that Tango is more difficult because it doesn’t follow a particular timing or rhythm to the music.  It’s much more about a connection between the lead and follow.  Indeed, all dancing has that connection between lead and follow but I would say that this is truer of Tango than any other dance.

He went on to explain further.  “The girl that I am seeing,” he said, “is an accomplished Tango dancer.  And I’m a little nervous about picking it up.”  He then said that the reason for his nervousness is that as a newbie, he feels a little uncomfortable asking an experienced dancer to dance.

I can totally relate.

And I probably have nothing to worry about, but asking someone who I know is really good at such-and-such a dance when I am quite mediocre at it intimidates me.  I over think it into thinking that the follow will be bored, or summarily unimpressed, at my display of 6 moves which I repeat over and over ad nauseum.  It certainly isn’t true in the reverse case, I have danced with lots of inexperienced follows in plenty of dances and not really thought very much of it, I just get out there and show them the moves.  Furthermore, I find it to be an exciting challenge to lead them where I want them to go even though they are unfamiliar with the moves.  It’s quite fun.

But I still get nervous asking experienced follows to dance when I know (or believe) that they are at a skill level far above my own.

The one caveat is that if I know the person (follow) outside of dancing reasonably well and are comfortable with them, then I don’t mind so much.  The anxiety dissipates.  Other than that, though, I still feel the psychological pressure for some reason.

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