Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Facebook Privacy Settings - Summary

I've never been someone who cared that much about privacy. I make some attempts to exert control over what gets published on Facebook feeds (e.g., me making a comment on someone's picture does not get published on my news feed but who I just became with does.) Really, my attempt at privacy was never consistent. For a while, I unlisted myself from facebook public searches, and then placed myself back but blocked my photo, and then I decided to show my photo but take away all other info. I mean circumstance changes all the time and the key really is to make informed decisions--though in the past, I never really paid attention.

I remember when FB rolled out their mini feed and home feed and everyone can get stalked...that created a huge disgruntlement among users but I thought the feature was really cool...I mean if you dont want people to know then just don't do it right? Recently Facebook rolled out a huge new privacy change and I finally got around too seeing what new options they have given you and what have been taken away. To be honest, I was a little surprised.

Here is a list of superficial stuff that I think matters for the average joe who's scared their boss might find a pic of them drinking.

  1. There is a list of publicly available information that you cannot hide if you allow your facebook link to show up as a search result (i.e., someone who searches for your name on google might see a link to your limited profile as a search result). This includes your profile pic (you used to be able to hide it) and pages you are a "fan" of (why is that even available to be seen?!). The only way to prevent this information from becoming available publicly is to delist yourself from the search results. If you did not previously hide your friends list , that will also show up in a public search.
  2. You can no longer control what shows up on your mini news feed and wall--although your old settings are still in tact. Remember back in the day when the mini news feed first rolled out and there would be a time stamp next to your activities (e.g., Jan 1 10:15am Lynn is now friends with Adam Kiu)? At the time, you were able to control what gets to be published or not--Don't show timestamp, check; publish relationship status updates, uncheck. All of this is now gone. If you have chosen not to publish photos being tagged of you, you can no longer make it show. If you have chosen to publish them, you cannot make them disappear. On top of that, the news feed also shows that you "liked" something and you can't make it stop.
  3. If you want to hide your friend's list from your profile, you can...sort of. You can have your list of friends not show on your profile page but if you allow yourself to show up in public searches and did not previously hide your friends list, your friends list will still turn up when someone searches about you on google.
  4. You can now block specific person/people from seeing particular status updates. If you want to stop someone from seeing a particular update, before you press the "Share" button, you can click on this little lock icon and block a specific person or a group of people from seeing that message (e.g., if I want to publish a video about Matt Chan that Matt told me not to publish, I can totally do that without Matt knowing.)
There are a couple of other small and big changes and behind the scene application-related privacy issues. The thing with privacy and worrying about third-party apps on facebook, imo, is that if you don't want your private information given to third-party software companies, then don't add third-party developed apps (like Tal) or just don't put any personal information about you on Facebook, hidden or not. Really, anything you put on the Internet can be compromised and be seen by anyone at some point so if you're that worried, just do put it on. It's all about calculated risk and what you value.

I'm pretty sure Facebook will have to change some of these issues soon, as they are still in a transitional period on privacy policies, as well as getting in trouble with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) (The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has called on the FTC to investigate the changes that it says mislead users and "contradict Facebook’s own representations."), so we'll see if the changes I documented will stay.

Anyway, if you want a more detailed look at what the new privacy transition can do to your

Monday, December 7, 2009

Smell, light, and sound of marketing

I bought a coat yesterday from Hollister and now I feel like justifying how I sold myself out, again. You know, I've been selling myself out a lot since going out with Adam...interesting...

The short version of the story is that I bought the coat because
1. The music at Hollister was not loud
2. The smell at Hollister was surprisingly non-existent
3. I could not see the coat in their lighting, so I had to buy it so I can try it on at home.

Here is the long version.
Adam and I went shopping yesterday (finally!!) and we decided to go to Cambridgeside Galleria, a relatively normal mall, reminiscent of Walden Galleria in Buffalo. Apparently, it's one of the better malls in Boston, though I find the selections lacking; perhaps I'm just missing the familiarity of the stores in Canada, and actually knowing which stores to go when I want a certain type of clothing.

Within the three floors of retail stores, Club Monaco, A&F, and Hollister were lined up side-by-side in the corner of the highest floor, with A&F in the middle. Now, to provide a context of my relationship with A&F and Hollister, let me tell you about my past experiences in these stores.

The first time I walked into an A&F and spent more than 30 seconds in the store was in was in NYC, at their 5th Ave. flagship store that was three or four stories high. I was with Jen and Andrew Ho, and some other people, whom, at this point I cannot remember. The group of us walked in and within a minute, I felt nauseated by the smell and the extremely loud music, and the very dark lighting. I got out of there fast. Andrew Ho trailed out after me after a few minutes and we decided we wanted to leave. However, after waiting outside for a long time, the rest of the group is still not out and none of us had US phones. So we went back in on a hunt that lasted for about 30 minutes. By the time we finally got out, I almost cried. This was about four years ago.

The second time I walked into A&F and stayed for more than 30 seconds was this summer, before I went back to Taiwan. Two years ago, when I went back to TW and gave my cousin some American Eagle clothing, she was disappointed that they were not from A&F. Apparently A&F is a status symbol and there are fakes everywhere in TW. So this time, I decided to get all my friends in TW A&F stuff. I was in there for about 15 minutes in search of the right and not too expensive stuff before I had to leave the premise and take a break for 10 minutes before I went back in for another 15 minutes to finish my purchases.

Yesterday, was my first time at Hollister.

To be fair, I headed for CM first. Funnily, CM smelled like A&F, you know, the smell of that cologne (apparently named "Fierce"), which the employees must spray on the clothes every 30 minutes to a few hours, according to this source and this source, and this source. It surprises me that people actually go and buy this cologne to spray on their own A&F clothing, but that's probably a discussion for another day. Adam and I were cracking up in CM because we felt so sorry for the employees of CM...they totally did not sign up to smell like A&F all day...or did they? Ironically, when we went into the Hollister store, expecting that scent to be stronger, the smell was actually not present AT ALL. (Btw, I just ran a search on the smell in Hollister because for a second there, I realized that I don't actually remember whether Hollister usually has a smell at all since I almost never walk into those stores and I always group the two stores together in my head so I don't actually know which store I'm in when I'm there. The results told me that I was not wrong and Hollister does do the same spray-on cologne deal, but the two stores apparently do not smell the same. Hollister uses the "Social" spray....) . I wonder what happened with the ventilation and management in these stores.

Surprisingly, the music at Hollister was not exceptionally loud either. We had walked in A&F right after CM since I thought if we had to be forced to withstand the smell at CM anyway, we should just go into A&F. We were in there for five minutes (or less), checked out a coat that was on sale but left because I had no interest in buying an A&F item for myself. However, at Hollister, we saw that exact same coat for $20 less. Since there was not loud music and obnoxious scent, I actually stayed in the store and attempted to try it on! (On another note, Guess downstairs on the second floor had a DJ playing VERY loud music. The sales ppl were screaming at each other in order to have a conversation).

So the coats were hanging on a rolling rack and there were different colours...unfortunately, Adam and I could not tell what those colours were. So I took out one of the darker colours and put it on, then attempting to look for a mirror, to no avail. Naively believing that we would be able to find a mirror with better lighting at the fitting room, we took a dark and a light colour coat towards the direction. Outside of the fitting room, we found a full-length mirror, without any lighting AT ALL. What is the point of having a mirror you can't see?!?!?! The fitting room girl came and asked us if we wanted a room, and I asked her if there was lighting in there. She laughed and said yes so we got a room. Well, it turned out that the lighting in there was rather dim still and after walking toward and away from the mirror a few times, we were finally able to see that the dark colourwas brown and the light colour was maybe a beigey colour (it could be white actually, who knows). Adam thought the jacket was nice, I wasn't sure since I can't really tell in the dark, so we decided to buy it so we can take it home and actually see the fit and the style. (so that's their marketing scheme!).

Completing the Sale
Ironically, Adam had to use the restroom when I was lining up to pay. As soon as he left the store, the music got turned on to be extremely loud. The girl at the head of the line was taking a very long time, so by the time Adam came back, i was still in the same position in line. After about 15 minutes, I was finally at the register. But then the girl screws up, and had to do a return and then a payment again. By the time we finally got out of the store, we thought we were in a different world. It was like that scene from Shawshank Redemtion when the dude crawled out of the tunnel into the light, I swear. We went into Banana Republic next and I saw Adam carrying the bag in his arms and realized that the handle had broken and he didn't tell me because he did not want to go back to the store. That made me laugh pretty hard. Anyway, I volunteered to go in myself and switched the bag.

Did I like the coat when I got home, you might ask? Yeah, it was alright, tho i think the fit is a little big. The XS size that the store was sold out of is on the website though, but plus $10 shipping, so we may still have to go back to that store to return the one I got. Sorry Adam!!

Btw, note the blinds at the NYC 5th Ave Flagship store in the first image. Why do they bother having windows?! I wonder if the blinds ever get used...

Adam thinks that the marketing scheme for the A&F chains and subsidiaries work because their clothes actually look nice. I beg to differ, although I have no idea why their marketing scheme works on the mass. Someone enlighten me?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Belief and Discussion of Belief Tolerance

I have two stories and two points to make that are really one point.

A couple of years ago, I took the subway downtown with Andrew and Danny to go study at the UT library. On the way there, we started discussing the subject of Santa Claus. I stated, quite loudly because I have a loud voice, that I would never allow my children to believe in Santa Claus; the idea of being bribed to be good is pretty absurd to me, a lot more so than blackmail (i.e., if you don't be good, I am going to take you home and never take you out again). I feel that people, big or small, should realize that they will not always be awarded for being good, whatever good may mean to them. I want to teach my children the value of caring for other people, and being considerate, and that they should never expect to be rewarded for doing the right thing. Now here, we can get into a whole discussion on what being good is to them, or what doing the right thing is. But my point is, I don't believe that children should be awarded for being good, because being good should be a fundamental way of life.

Upon hearing our conversation, in which Danny and Andrew stated their full agreement, a malicious and cowardly lady on the subway came up to us, as the subway was halting to a stop, and told us condescendingly that we should watch what we say and that there are little kids in the car. Then, she left the train without waiting for a reply. Her attitude was very rude and disdainful, as though we were ignorant little Chinese kids who were too obnoxious and self-absorbed to watch what we say in public. The three of us all felt very indignant. Admittedly, we did not take note of whether there were children in the car throughout our conversation, but after she got out, we looked around and found that there were no children in the car.

But let's say there were children in the car that day and there we were spewing our mouths off about how we would never lie to our children about Santa Claus...Are we being obnoxious or religiously intolerant? Or are we enjoying the freedom of speech that we so deserve? Or maybe, to that lady, we were immigrants who have no respect for its culture.

Today, during lunch, the subject of Santa Claus came up among a table of full-grown adults, who have all stopped, at some point, believing that Santa Claus is real. Now I, being the run-my-mouth-no-matte-where-I-am dumbass, decided to state my opinion, to a guy, who happens to be Jewish, about the absurdity of Santa Claus, because, you know, we're all adults here, we're allowed to have a mature discussion on whether or not we should allow our kids to believe in Santa. The guy agreed with me. But just as he began to elaborate on his reasons for having told his children that Santa was not real, a woman heatedly interrupted, sounding very very offended, and began defending the idea. She said that the reason why she thinks Santa is important is because you can't buy your children everything just because they want it. That's why there is Santa. Parents draw the line, but Santa can give them whatever they want without spoiling them.

She then proceeded to tell me that when I have children, I will know what it's like--as though I am not allowed to have an opinion on this matter unless I have children. Perhaps she felt attacked when I said that children should not be awarded for being good. Or perhaps she really believes that I have no right to have an opinion on Santa Claus unless I have children. But either way, she completely nazied the conversation. No one replied to her after her angry speech. You know, I would have loved to have continued exploring this matter with her a little deeper and hear her opinion, but the anger in her voice completely took everyone by surprise and we all shut up.

Similarly, the topic of Secret Santa is not a topic to be discussed at the table either. "WE DON'T DO PRESENTS IN THIS COMPANY" one woman stated loudly, at least twice. No ifs and buts, no discussion.

What about Christmas decorations? Apparently the decorations need to be non-denominated because a few years ago someone complained about Christmas wreaths.

I know, right?!

In both of these stories, the question of beliefs and value come into place: you have a series of people with beliefs and values that they try to enforce it on to other people and they can't tolerate otherwise.
  1. Santa Claus is real and should stay real for children. You can't state otherwise, even if it's on a subway or a table filled with grown adults, or someone will get very offended.
  2. You can't put Christmas decorations up or else people who are not Christian will get offended and feel persecuted.
  3. We don't do presents in this company, no matter who wants to do it.

Why is it that we can't tolerate the fact that people have their own beliefs? Someone without a belief but enforces other people to give up their beliefs in their presence, that's a belief too.

That situation on the subway should be a two-fold compromise:
  1. Knowing that many people around me choose to weave this fantasy tale of an old man who reward children for being good and give coals for the bad ones, I should be more careful next time I talk about the idea of Santa Claus being a bad idea so I don't make kids cry. In this case, I respect your beliefs and values on how to raise children.
  2. If you choose to lie to your kids about the fact that Santa Claus exists, you should be prepared that your child might have to hear that Santa Claus is not real and not go telling every person in the world to shut up as soon as the topic of "Santa is not real" comes up. In this case, you respect my beliefs and values on how the world works.
I have no problems with you wanting your children to believe in Santa, but you cannot expect the world to censor itself based on your belief.

Similarly, if you don't want to exchange presents, don't participate--don't stop others from doing it. And if you don't like Christmas decorations/Hannukah Candles/Chinese New Year stickers, should you really get offended if someone puts it up? I mind my business and you mind yours. I won't enforce my beliefs on you, don't enforce yours on mine.

Sometimes, you have two beliefs that clash. Some people might feel that if I put up Christmas decorations in the office, I am enforcing my belief on them (an example of course, since I am not Christian). I get that and this is where discussions happen. If you try to discuss these beliefs or values, these people will get offended and upset.

Why can't we discuss why you really want Christmas decorations or why Christmas decorations bother you? Why can't we discuss why Santa is important or not important to you?
I don't understand why there is
no room for discussion.

Is tolerance for other people's beliefs, or even the discussion of other people's beliefs that hard?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Origin of Boston Pizza

There's a Pizzeria downstairs of our complex called Regina Pizzeria. This place is the only place that rendered me to actually crave for pizza. Otherwise, I tend to go "ugh" when pizza is being served, anywhere. Sometimes Adam and I would order one of their gourmet pizzas, bring it upstairs, and eat it fancy...i.e., with wine.

When guests come and visit, we usually tell them about this place, and if they are so inclined, we'd go in, order a pizza, and have a few beer (or pina colada). After the guests eat the pizza, they'd sigh with satisfaction and say, "Oh, this is the real Boston Pizza," which would usually remind me of the fact that I have not seen a Boston Pizza anywhere in Boston.

Today, Kenny randomly msged me on MSN. "Why is it called Boston Pizza! [sic]" he asked. Not knowing the answer, I asked Google. The Boston Pizza website did not give me any story about its origin, but it did tell me to direct my questions to their three regional offices: one for Western Canada, one Eastern Canada (ON and the Atlantic), and one for Quebec...because obviously, Quebec is neither Western nor Eastern Canada... I know, right?! But I digress.

This information led me to believe that Boston Pizza is wholly Canadian...until I realized that there was a tiny link at the bottom of the "About" page for the U.S. site. Clicking on it led me to Boston's The Gourmet Pizza restaurant website, leading me to believe that perhaps it is American after all. So I go into their locations section, where they provided me a map of American States--the dark blue states are ones I can click on to find the locations. After clicking around all the dark blue States along the Atlantic (I still don't know where I am on the map), I realized Massachusetts is one that is NOT clickable. Double-checking on their pull-down list of States (I should have done that first) confirmed the fact that there is not, indeed, a Boston Pizza in Boston.

Finally, after doing some investigating, I found their "Our Heritage" page in the "Company Info" link menu, which proceeded to tell me:
  1. The first Boston Pizza opened in Edmonton, Alberta in 1964.
  2. It was opened by an illegal Greek immigrant who had jumped ship in Vancouver.
  3. In 1998, Boston Pizza expanded "south of the border" into Dallas, Texas. "The Boston Pizza name was changed to Boston's The Gourmet Pizza to communicate [that] it's 'gourmet pizza.'"
  4. The real reason why it was named Boston's is because "Boston was a recognizable and established name ... Boston Bruins, Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics, Boston Cream Pie. It was the 'Big Leagues.'"
To take Adam's favourite phrase....Are you joking me?!

What a scam.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Location is key

I know a lot of people complain that coffee at Starbucks is ridiculously expensive, but that's usually because they are not buying regular brewed coffee when they go there. If you are asking for an "iced, grande, caramel, triple, non-fat latte, easy ice", or any other espresso drinks that are as ridiculously customized, then yes, you might be paying around the ballpark of $5. However, if you went to the counter and asked for a "tall bold", essentially a ready-made dark roast brewed coffee, you'd be paying around the $1.50 range, give and take a couple of dimes...probably a little more pricey than Tim Hortons but not to the point of unreasonable.

Every time I take the T at my home stop, next to the gates is this little donut/coffee shop that makes the station smell like heaven. The line up is long and the place is always busy. One day, as I watched my train leave the station without me, I decided I'd give the place a try while waiting for the next train to arrive. I asked for a medium hazelnut coffee (I admit I'm a lover of flavoured coffee) and the total came to be $2.05. I was a bit shocked because from what I recall, a "Grande bold" at Starbucks in Canada was exactly $2 after tax. This coffee is not only five cents more, but the price is also in AMERICAN. Admittedly though, if I were to ask for a hazelnut flavoured shot at Starbucks, it'd be thirty cents more so I accepted that cost in my head after doing some thinking. Was the coffee good you ask? It was decent, as far as I could tell (I asked for two cream and two sugar and it ended up tasting like quadruple-quadruple on crack).

A few weeks went by without me missing the train so I didn't have the opportunity to stop by this little stand again...but then one day, I decided, I believe on a weekend, to spend that $2.05 again because Adam's mom gave me a bag of change she didn't want. I carefully counted out the exact change in pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters before I left the house, only to be told that the price is $2.30 after I ordered. Apparently last time a mistake was made last time and I was not charged the extra quarter for the hazelnut flavour. I had to give the man bills rather than getting rid of the change, but that's not the point. I felt a little ridiculous walking into the train with an un-corporately-branded cup of joe that cost me more than what I would have paid for had I gone to Starbucks (especially because I don't pay for the price of syrup with my registered Starbucks card (I know, I have issues)).

Now some of you might point out the shallowness of the above comment...why does the brand even matter? Shouldn't you just pay for the quality of the coffee? Well, yes, of course, ideally, if the coffee was that good, it would be worth it to pay a little more, brand-name or not, especially when it's just a cup of coffee and not an ugly little handbag with little G's printed all over it. Well I guess my point is, Starbucks jacks up the price of their brewed coffee because they can. They have upped their branding enough (with all the advertising and customization and interior design) so that their pricing appears justified. The question is, what justifies the coffee price next to the T? Their coffee is not, by any means, so good that I'm willing to pay more than for an avg Dunkin Donut coffee. My answer: location, location, location.

On another note, I should make a new tag for my coffee posts.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Coffee in Medford--Cambridge

I have figured out why my caramel Americano is sub-par from the SB downstairs of our building: their pump for the caramel syrup is stuck. This morning, I decided to tell them to add another pump of syrup to my drink and saw that only half of the syrup is being squirted out for every pump, drastically reducing the flavour, and of course, the sugar. Also, the hot water is not hot enough, causing my coffee to be lukewarm after I add cream to it. There are a couple ways I can mitigate this problem:
  1. Suck it up and deal with sub-par coffee (not an option)
  2. Ordering a different flavour with hopes that the pumps are working (but I like Caramel)
  3. Asking for a Grande three-quarter full 6 pump caramel Americano (that would make me sound crazy)
  4. Stop by another SB somewhere along my commute to work (quite time-consuming)
  5. Stop drinking from SB and drink the free coffee at work (I would have to buy cream)
  6. Stop drinking from SB and make my own coffee (I would have to buy filters, coffee, and/or new machine)
 Solution 6 is the lesser of the 6 evil. We have yet to go grocery shopping though. We don't even have salt in the house. This is a boring post, I know.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I found a job

I haven't been really good at letting people know I got a job...apparently even in person I would forget to say something. I guess I just didn't see it as a big deal, though it was such a big deal to get a job when I actually didn't have one.

So here is the stat:
I'm working at a company called CoreStreet and they provide solutions for secure identities, which means, as the technical writer there, I am trying to very hard to learn about Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) so i can actually write about it. To make you jealous, the company provides catered lunches daily, as well as monthly T passes. The office is located in Cambridge, and there are approximately 20 people working there (very small) and everyone is very friendly.

In terms of where we live, we just moved in the week Jen, Kenny, and Matt came to visit us (Oct. 1). The city we live in is called Medford, and it's probably the equivalent of what Yonge and Eg would be to Toronto downtown core as Medford would be to Boston core. The place is brand new and lives like a hotel. Adam and I have been putting all our money into decorating the house, and it looks pretty good, but you gotta come visit to believe it ;). We don't have enough money to fill the house with furniture yet, so pictures will no be coming until I start getting paid :D  The three weekends we have been here, we have had visitors from Toronto, which is pretty awesome, but more about that another day.

Last, but not least, Boston is a great city, minus the transportation part of the city!

That's all for now!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fall Fashion: Rain Boots??

As we all know, boots have been all the rage for a while now. I think it started with the knee-high boots, or as I recall what has been called hooker boots or Come F*** Me Boots; and then after a couple of years of all types going in and out of style, it went all the way down to ankle boots, which came back with a vengeance last year (in keeping with this whole 80s fashion that has been going on for too long now.) Oh, and not to mention, the Ugghlies, of which I am now an unfortunate owner (received as a gift...they are, however, as I reluctantly admit, very comfortable and warm.)

Come on, if you had gone to Australia, say, five years ago, you would have never thought those Ugghlies would sweep America off of its feet (hehehe). But it did, and it continues to. So if I were to tell you that these babies would come into fashion soon, you'd believe me right?

Okay, well I kid. No one I know in Toronto owns a pair of rain boots, we hardly own umbrellas. The reality is, we will never need a pair (whereas Ugghlies are pretty warm for the harsh winters there.) There is this thing called "car", which I have been pretty deprived off since I left Toronto, that replaces umbrellas and rain boots. I know it rained all summer in Toronto this year, and last year as well, but if you had to walk for a couple of blocks in the rain, the well-maintained roads (seriously, no joke) and drainage system usually will not allow water puddles or mud soak your feet or splash on you. Even in the winter, the slush is nicely shovelled to the side without problems. When we think of rain boots, we think of these:

But alas, what most of us probably failed to realize is that there are lesser places in the world that does rain all the time, where the roads are horribly planned, the drainage system sucks, the snow melts into slush and freezes again back and forth, and the roads are just not shovelled. One of these lesser places is named Boston.

As summer comes into an end and the leaves turn nicely red, yellow, and orange, rain befalls Boston, and mud befalls on us. The FIRST day I got to Boston, I had the fortunate experience of walking to the T (the Bostonian name for their public transit system) on a dirt path along the highway in the rain from home. My shoes did not look pretty. I noticed a girl on the T, however, wearing rain boots and I thought to myself, "What a great idea! I'm going to get me a pair!!" Funny thing was, I thought finding a pair of nice looking rain boots would be hard, but little did I know, rain boots are fall necessities not just in Britain, but also in Boston. Almost every store that sells shoes in Boston, sell rain boots ...even Aldo (Did anyone else know that Aldo sells rain boots?)

Apparently, rain boots, sometimes used interchangeably with Wellies (supposed to go up to your knees), or Waders (supposed to go up to your chest), or galoshes (supposed to cover your shoes), is a part of the fall fashion here in Boston. Here are some fashionable ones:

Which ones did I get? Hunter Wellington Boots in black, with red Wellie Socks for lining and cuff!!

FYI: Hunter’s Wellington boots are actually famous for its durability, comfort and performance... Hunter caters to all sorts of people from farmers to rock stars to the royalty [my box tells me it's appointed by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh!]

*EDIT: Apparently, Eldon says Hunter boots are popular in Toronto. I ran a google search on "hunter boots toronto" and found a blog entry from last year that talked about it. According to this girl, you can find hunter boots at approximate four locations in Toronto...they are about as mainstream as Salvatore Ferragamo handbags!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

i want to eat

  • a big piece of steak
  • indian food
  • pad thai 
  • beef short ribs

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

First Few days in Boston

  1. The taxi driver ripped us off on our way from the aiport to Newton. $73 for the ride. it also rained pretty hard when i first got here.
  2. Day 1 consisted of getting a lot of presents (a new wallet and a new BB) and going to two malls. Adam knows how to treat a girl right.
  3. Day 2 = going to Chinatown and finding out Chinatown is really Viet-town. It has more Vietnamese restaurants than Chinese restaurants. There were three stores we found that sold Vietnamese bread so we bought two bread from each store to test out which one is gonna be the best. Yes, that is what i have been eating for lunch in the last couple of days.
  4. The "T" is ridiculously old and and manual. No more complaining about the TTC.
    • Tried to exchange a bus ticket at the T (their name for their transit system) and the dude told me to go to Avad square. After much commotion, we realized he said Harvard Square.
    1. I got complimented by a girl walking around Tufts Univeristy. She really liked my outfit.
    2. Someone at the bank asked me how I liked Boston. I said it was "alright" and he was all shocked. He then asked me where I am from and I said "Toronto" and he became defeated and said, "Oh ok...Toronto is a nice city"
    That's all for today, more to come other days, hopefully. I keep saying that.

    Friday, August 21, 2009

    My Internship Final Essay

    First and foremost, I think that if the goal of this program is to attract young people of Taiwanese origin to learn about Taiwan and think about coming back to work in the future, it did have its success with me. The last time I came back to Taiwan, I had found myself feeling like a complete foreigner and believing that the idea of me coming back to Taiwan to work is almost foolish, as I felt that there is too much of a cultural divide between what I have grown up with and the customs that exist in the Asian culture. Nevertheless, the eight weeks that I have been there, especially because of the local Taiwanese people with whom I have worked and gotten to know, has made me re-evaluate my position and is seriously considering going back and hopefully find a suitable job there, at least for a few years.
    My first impression with TTT was one of pleasant surprise. During orientation, I felt like an honored guest, an undeserved one at that, because the question that keeps arising in my mind is, what did I do to deserve this special kind of treatment? But what I have learned, while working in Taiwan for these eight weeks was that a part of it is, in fact, keeping with the Taiwanese tradition, where a guest is treated with extra consideration to ensure their comfort. But this also leads to my next question: am I a guest here or do I belong here? My answer was slowly revealed throughout my internship.
    I think one of the most important impacts that TTT has made on me is finding a resolution for my identity crisis. I’ve always felt that I had strong ties with Taiwan. When I was 7, half way through grade one, my parents uprooted our family and went to New York. For two full years while I was there, I had refused to learn English and cried about wanting to come home. “You are home,” my mother would tell me. But I would tell her that this was not my home, my home is in Taiwan. In grade 3, when our family moved to Canada, I began to slowly immerse into the North American culture; however, when people ask me what my background is, I would always tell them proudly that I am Taiwanese; I can speak Chinese fluently, I can even read fully, I love Chinese literature. Nevertheless, two years ago, when I did come back to Taiwan and met some Taiwanese people, I was told that I am a foreigner (外國) and, for the first time, heard my own accent when I spoke Mandarin. When I go out in Taiwan and talk to a sales clerk, they would ask me “where are you from?”  The answer “Taiwan” seems to be no longer acceptable. But can a外國be able to work in a Taiwanese institute? Will I be able to make any contributions to Academia Sinica?
                During my internship here at the Academia Sinica, working at the Program for Historical Demography, the professor for whom I worked, Professor Yang, had put me on two major projects (and some minor ones) and each of them made me realize that I did have something to contribute. My first major project was researching on foot binding. Throughout the eight weeks, I pored through both English and Chinese books and journal articles on the subject and was able to put together a draft research paper as an aid for Professor Yang’s final paper. There were two things I felt that really aided in this research. First was that I was able to do the research in both Chinese and English and compiled the research paper in English. One of the important things that Academia Sinica wants to promote is publications of journal articles in English in order to maintain an international status in all fields. Having compiled and translated a paper with a thesis and proof all in English is an important step for this. Another thing that aided in this research was the fact that I have already written several research papers throughout my Masters degree, with one pending publication, so that Professor Yang and I could work relatively fast in terms of knowing what type of material to look for this type of format.
                The second major project I was assigned to work on was giving seminars on writing academic papers (both for journals and conferences). Having obtained my Masters in English Rhetoric () while having had many lessons and experiences throughout my degree on how to write effective academic papers, I was able to put together some useful presentations for the Masters and PhD students on writing English papers. This experience made me realize that I can do more than just teach English in Taiwan, but that I can provide very specific and useful knowledge in the academic realm.
                In sum, working on these two projects at Academia Sinica made me realize that I do have a place in Taiwan. While I was in Academia Sinica, I did not feel like a 外國. I felt like anyone who was working in Academia Sinica and made some wonderful friends while I was there, with whom I am continuing keeping in touch with. At no point did my co-workers made me feel like I am not like them (though they are sometimes extra nice to me because I felt a little homesick and make fun of my accent and grammatical errors from time to time) and they all came to support me during our final presentation at the Technology Building. They told me how proud of me they were and made me feel like I really did make a contribution to the work that they are doing.
                So in answer to my question of whether I am a guest here or I belong here, I have to say that my internship in Taiwan has transformed my experience of from being a guest to actually feeling at home in Taiwan. I felt that not only was I able to contribute to a working environment in Taiwan, but I personally have gained so much in terms of learning about the people, the culture, and the history of Taiwan in the past eight weeks that the maximum words allowed in this essay cannot possibly sum up. And last, but not least, what I am missing about Taiwan at this moment, is not only the shopping and the food (which were both unforgettable), but the people in Taiwan—their cleverness, their determination to continuously improve their lives and culture, and, most of all, their kindness. The idea of coming back to Taiwan to work no longer feels foolish, but desirable. Thank you for this wonderful experience.

    Wednesday, July 29, 2009

    The Many Faces of TTT

    The fact is, most of the people in this program are young. By young, I mean, 2nd-4th year university students, an average of 18-21 year olds. Not to say that there aren't a large numer of 22 and 23 year olds, but 25 is damn old.

    What was I like when I was 20? Naive, immature, unaware, blamed others for things that didn't go my way, unappreciative of all the wonderful turn of events that has been endowed upon me for no reason at all.
    What am I like as a 25 year old? Less naive, less immature, more wary, attempt to figure out what I did wrong for things to go badly, growing appreciation for just how lucky I am to be where I am today.
    What was I not like when I was 20? Believing that I am better than Taiwanese people who grew up in Taiwan because I happen to grow up in some other place. Lack of thirst and drive to learn about things around me, thinking that it's okay to be ignorant.

    That is almost all.

    Thursday, July 16, 2009

    History and background of footbinding in Taiwan

    Here's the less interesting part, very general as well and only focused on Taiwan.

    Footbinding was a custom passed down from approximately a thousand years ago, though no one really knows the exact time period of when it started: the earliest speculated date is 221 BC - 206 BC, the Qin dynasty. The custom is popular mainly with the Chinese ethnic of Han, though not all cultural groups practiced such a custom (For example we based on the household registration data during the Japanese Colonial period that the Hakka did not hold such practice.). At first, the practice was mainly popular with the wealth royalties, as women were unable to move around and perform laborious work. However, this fashion trend slowly spread to even the poor and by the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), as long as it was economically possible, every household with a daughter would bind the daughter’s feet. (CITATION)

    During the Qin dynasty, when the Manchurians took over China in 1644, the regime attempted to ban the practice of footbinding and did not allow their own people to begin such practice. Nevertheless, even the Manchurian laypeople, who had never held such practice, became absorbed in this fashion trend of binding the feet, allowing the practice to continue with the Han people for another 100 years, even though, for the most part, they never practiced themselves.
    During this time, many women can to Taiwan from China, which not only popularized the custom of footbinding, but it became a mark of status. Nevertheless, in 1895, when Taiwan became under Japanese rule, footbinding came to be seen by the Japanese as a part of the Three Bad Habits (among opium and wearing of the queue) that needed to be eliminated. At the start, there was no official ban issued on footbinding, but the practice was merely advertised as a bad habit through education and the media in order to encourage the women to unbind their feet. For example, a report by the Japanese on a typhoon that hit Taipei On August 6, 1898, which caused a flood and 1390 houses to collapse, stated that of the 85 deaths that were caused by the typhoon, most were women with bounded feet. Many of the educated were the first to begin the anti-footbinding movement. In March, 1900, the first Natural Feet Society was established in Taipei, thereafter many branches of the Society was established in other parts of the province, among with other organizations with similar purpose. However, the custom was not so easily abolished and took until 1915 before an official ban was issued by the Japanese government to stop the practice. During the beginning of the anti-footbinding movement, most of the founders and members of the organizations were men who assured that all the women in their family have unbound their feet.

    In 1911, an organization named Taipei Society for Unbinding Feet was established whose members were only women. At the time, it was believed that this type of organizations, originated by uppe rclass women, were the reason why footbinding became elminated so quickly soon after, as the Office of the Governor-General decided in a meeting in 1915 to completely abolish this practice and issued a ban at the beginning of the year. By August, there were approximately 763 000 women who have unbounded their feet, and was continuing to increase annually.

    Why was it so difficult to convince the Taiwanese society to stop this custom when women were clearly subjugated to excruciating pain with injuries that hinders their movement for the rest of their lives?

    Wednesday, July 15, 2009

    What is footbinding?

    Thought I'd share some stuff I wrote as an intro to footbinding, I haven't cited the source yet.

    One cannot fully comprehend any discussion related to footbinding without understanding the process of how footbinding is done. There are different methods for binding the feet, of course, but all of which involve pressing the toes down as far into the soles of your feet as possible, so that the bones of your toes and your arch break. Then using cotton or silk bandages that are approximately ten feet long and 2-3 inches wide, the feet is wrapped firmly to keep the toes pressed against the sole, so that the broke foot is folded at the arch, and also breaking the side bones to make your feet narrow. The binding is then sewn tightly together and, depending on how wealthy the family is, the bandages get changed from once a week or everyday so that the feet can be cleaned and bandages can be tightened to continue making the feet smaller. This is done for about two to three years until the feet are the ideal length, which is around 3-4 inches.

    In spite of the excruciating pain that results from having your feet broken and bounded by tight bandages, the girl is also asked to walk around to further crush the bones of her feet into a desired shape. Often, during this process, infections would result, sometimes leading to gangrene. However, it was seen as fortunate if the toes fall off, as that would make the feet even smaller. What would not be good is when the entire foot needs to get amputated. In fact, an adage that’s often recited by mothers who help bind their daughters’ feet transliterates as “no rot no small, more rot more good”, essentially pointing out that if the flesh doesn’t rot and decay, then it would be difficult for the feet to achieve the desired effect. (CITATION)

    Very General, Non-detailed Update of TW

    It seems as though I've even abandoned my weak attempt at micro-blogging, not that anyone was encouraging the behaviour to begin with. My Internet at home pretty much blows (slow as hell), though I should be grateful that my friend Bruce has lent me a USB connection stick that allows me to connect tothe Internet anywhere in Taiwan as long as there is cell phone reception.

    At any rate, here is a short update with what has been going on in my life in the last few weeks after I left Toronto:

    Week 1 (June 24-28th): Taiwan Tech Trek's orientation. We went to TaiChung and area, which is approximately the center area of the Taiwan island. There are about a little more than 200 of us in the program and we were divided into 24 groups. My group only had 8 people and we spent the next four days touring together. I finished uploading the photos of the orientation after three weeks (at the rate of 5 pics a day) on Facebook.

    Week 2: First week of work and Adam's arrival. On Monday, I began my position in the Historical Demography Program at Academia Sinica. I am a research assistant for the head of this program and he wants me to do research on footbinding in order to write a conference paper on the subject, backed up by historical demographic data in Taiwan, to be presented at the TTT academic conference. I'm also holding Seminars on how to write effective academic papers. On Tuesday, Adam arrived. I picked him in the wee hours of the morning and from thereon, we toured Taipei whenever I'm not at work.

    Week 3: Second week of work and Hong Kong. Nothing general to report except that we took a trip to HK on the weekend. I hope I will end up making an entry about how much HK sucks (IMO).

    Week 4: This week. Well since it's not over yet, I will report it later. Prof. Harris and I finally finished the paper we are going to submit to the Cognitive Semiotics journal! I will hopefully upload more pics on Facebook when Adam heads home and I'm less busy after work.


    Wednesday, June 3, 2009

    Happy Birthday Pooface!!

    Four weeks ago, I ordered Adam a present, unfortunately, it takes very long for it to be made, so even though it's his birthday today, he still doesn't have it. =(

    However, as I would like for him to open something on the day of, Adam's sister, Amanda, and I bought some felt, ripped open an old pillow from my house and decided to make him a stuffed poo (with a penguin attached). Amanda taught me how to make blanket stitches and we started our test subject the penguin. I ended up doing everything ok, though Amanda had to help me fix my templates (cuz they were always lopsided) and the stitches obviously look amateur. I did most of the work on the penguin and Amanda made and stuffed the feet.

    The poo was actually a little more work! Amanda made the top poop with one round circle, one long rectangle and three triangles. I made the two bottom parts with some instructions from Amanda and together we put the three parts together. There were a lot of errors on the poo that I never bothered fixing, I figured it's a piece of poo anyway :D Below are the pics!

    Happy Birthday King Pooface!! 

    Tuesday, May 19, 2009

    Camping 2009

    So....Camping this year at Silent Lake (again) was quite..erm...interesting...
    • Day 1 was cold and wet, as it rained in the morning. We spent the entire morning putting up and taking down tents and tarps due to poor planning.
      • Once we stopped moving and settled down, we began to feel the cold and I began layering on clothing and socks. I managed to put on five layers of clothing and three pairs of socks in the course of the evening.
      • Went to sleep with all five layers of clothes and three layers of socks in two sleeping bags, feet were frozen and had trouble sleeping.
    • Day 2 was colder than day 1. I changed into 7 layers of strategically layered clothing early in the morning: was still cold throughout the day.
      • We took a very short hike with the boys taking turns carrying the 2 ton botchey (sp?) balls only to come back and not use it.
      • Drove to the picnic area and guys played a game of football, with a lot of cheating.
      • Justin poked Carmen in the face with a huge log Three Stooges style.
      • Perry managed to get stuck into a ditch despite we told him it would be bad idea to drive into it. Took 7 guys to get him out in the course of at least 30 minutes.
      • Adam accidentally pushed me and i almost fell face forward into the campfire.
      • Any time any of us were not doing something (which is most of the time) we stood around the charcoal bbq with a ton of clothes and our hands out like hobos under a bridge.
      • Went to bed in more layers of clothing and socks but was still frozen and could not sleep.
    • Day 3: Nice and warm and sunny but we had to pack and go home.
    • Important to note that we were constantly eating. For the first two day, we must have had like 6 meals and the last day we had 2 meals in four hours in the morning before we headed home.
    Cost of the trip: $103 each (how did we spent $1400?)
    Lessons learned: Priceless
    • Now I know why homeless people dress the way they do as they are outdoors 24/7
    • We use more than a bottle of water when brushing our teeth.
    • There are almost no bugs in the cold. When camping, pick your battle: bugs or freeze.
    • Be grateful for shelters and central heating and the luxury of wearing one layer of clothing in May when walking around outdoors for all but five minutes.
    • I see no point in living outdoors.
    Pictures to come.

    Thursday, May 7, 2009


    I've been really busy. I don't want to say that I'm gonna be giving up on blogging, but it's going to be a while before I can sit down and write something longer than 140 characters. Why 140 you ask? Because that's the max number of characters Twitter allows you to have. For those of you who have not noticed, I have managed to place a Twitter Gadget on the sidebar for quite a while now, under the title "That's what she said" (I don't even like the Office). Anyway, I've been microblogging nowadays in replacement. You don't need to get twitter to follow it but say hi if you have it :)

    Wednesday, April 22, 2009

    Does it bother you too?

    This post really bugs me:

    Charity gifts
    Hi Toronto,

    A friend of mine is getting married at the end of May, and I would like to get her a gift from a store that donates some of its proceeds to charity. Ideally, I would just make a donation in her name, but she and her hub to be really need some housewares and stuff to start a life together.

    Does anyone have any suggestions? Ideally I'm looking for a store like www.eatmywords.org ( they donate proceeds to the Stephen Lewis Foundation), but in this case, I can't get them edibles.


    Does it bother you too?

    Friday, April 17, 2009

    Robert Pattinson is too funny

    Twilight star's amazing powers of boredom

    In the 2008 vampire romance Twilight, Robert Pattinson's character had the ability to rip people to shreds with his teeth. In real-life, the actor has a much more mundane talent.
    Pattinson, 22, told Creme magazine that he managed to shake off one of his many obsessive fans simply by being a bore.
    "I had a stalker while filming a movie in Spain," Pattinson said. "She stood outside of my apartment every day for weeks — all day, every day. I was so bored and lonely that I went out and had dinner with her."
    It was at this point that Pattinson, who's currently preparing to start shooting the Twilight sequel New Moon, unleashed his powers of boredom on the unsuspecting stalker.
    "I just complained about everything in my life and she never came back," he said. "People get bored of me in, like, two minutes

    Source: http://www.yourmovies.com.au/news/?i=154519&action=news&rss=yes

    I think I'm going to follow him online from now on cuz he's so funny

    Thursday, April 16, 2009

    The Institution of Marriage

    For some odd reason, I feel that everywhere I turn nowadays, the talk of marriage is ubiquitous. I mean, yeah, last summer, I heard about people's weddings and attended some, which sparked some thoughts about marriage in my head, i.e., what type of wedding I would like, but the fleeting thoughts quickly turned into what am I going to eat tomorrow and will I be a bum for the rest of my life, etc. But as spring arrives and wedding season approaches, the talk of matrimony seems to be crawling in and not out of my life. You know, first I hear about my ex-boyfriend's wedding , then news of my semi-friends (people I sometimes hang out with but not often enough to attend their weddings) began to show up in my chat windows and next thing you know, the news consummates with pictures of engagements and weddings my Facebook home feed (excuse the pun, I couldn't help it). I hang out with Adam's cousins and it's all wedding talk, as one of them is getting married. It seems like even when I turn on the TV (by tv I mean ninjavideo.net), I somehow end up watching shows and movies about marriage (bride wars, rachel getting married, grey's anatomy, even the simpsons where marge and homer had to remarry for the fifth time).

    Perhaps one of the most exciting, and somewhat disturbing for me, news is my friend, a girl I met in first year, whom I consoled about her relationships throughout undergrad, has gotten engaged to someone I also know. Not that I'm not excited for her, I'm actually genuinely happy that the guy she went out with in our third year is the one for her and I think they're such a great match, it's just that I feel a little left out that I'm not even close to that step. It's hard to convey this dissonance I have. Whenever I hear about people I know are engaged and getting married, I get this pang of anguish, like, when is it my turn?! At that point, I usually have to remind myself that I don't want to get married yet. And yet every time the pang jolts me, I wonder whether or not I'm lying to myself about not wanting to get married right now.

    Countless number of ppl have asked me when's the big day for me and Adam and I keep telling them not any time soon: we are neither in the financial nor in the mental state to become a married couple. So what is bothering me?

    The question really boils down to what is marriage and what is so important about getting married? And what is the difference between being in a loving relationship vs. getting married? Here's a list of what the institution of marriage provides for us that a common-law relationship cannot:
    • A wedding - a procedure to formally announce, as well as to celebrate, your matrimony to and with you family and friends.
    • Security - an assauging contract that states you will have a life-partner whom you can depend on financially or the law will lay its fingers on said partner (until you get a divorce anyway)
    • Symbolic proof - a promise to each other that "you are the one" and that you have found someone who will love you unconditionally.
    • Stability - knowing that you will never have to be alone again and not having to go out and look for a partner.

    So here is the part where I get to apply these points to myself.
    • Do I want a wedding? Sort of, but not right now. I don't want a big wedding, just like 20 ppl I love being there. And currently I don't have the time, the finance, nor the will to plan a wedding.
    • Do I need the law to ensure I have emotional and financial stability? No, I hope I never have to depend on a man for financial stability the law cannot make a peron be emotionally supportive. Maybe eventually if I have kids.
    • Do I need a symbolic proof from Adam that I am the one? I am NEVER one for symbolic gestures. You can always break your promise.
    • Do I want stability in my life? Yes, I do. And therein lies the pang of anguish. I envy the people who are moving into a stable part in the course of life. What getting married means is that they are (or at least should be) financially and emotionally stable enough to be married. It's a stage in life that people will get to eventually. The reality is that there are such things as divorces. Marriage may give the illusion of stability of relationship, but it is not eternal assurance. I envy that they are at the part of their life that is stable but I am clearly not there yet, not until both Adam and I have a job and have found a place to live in which we are both happy. Getting married will not make anything in my life "stable." Thus, the envy is not in the marriage, but in that I feel to be a little bit behind in life, compared to some.
    The other day, my mom and I were talking about my future and I told her that I have no intention of getting married. She was quite shocked, worried, and slightly annoyed. For me, I was surprised that it came out of me. Was it a Freudian slip? The truth is, I don't need the stuff the instituion of marriage offers. I wouldn't mind having it eventually, but it's ok as long as I'm with the person I love and that I am leading a life that makes me happy.

    Marriage? Doesn't guarantee any of that.

    Wednesday, April 15, 2009

    Twilight: Part Deux

    Last September, I wrote about my thoughts on the book Twilight,claiming it was a piece of badly-written fanfic. One would think that if I really meant what I said, I would not go and buy the second book of that series. Oh, but I did. One day in December, I was feeling miserable. So while waiting for Adam to pick me up after work, I went into Chapters and asked the salesperson where they store the second book for the series. "New Moon?" the very nice, seemingly non-judgmental dude asked me. "Umm...sure..the second one." I paid my $12 after waiting in a long line and met up with Adam. To be fair, I read somewhere that the second one was the best of the series. I was lied to.

    Honestly, I have no right to criticize this book, since it was my choice to buy it (I might harbour a subconscious love for trashy novels?), so I'll stop at conveying to you about the fact that I skipped literally half of the pages in the book and wanted to kill myself every time the main character of the story referred to herself as Juliet and to her perfect Vampire boyfriend as Romeo.

    And since the third book has not been published in paperback yet, I've caught myself looking at the strategically placed sale signs for the hardcover books whenever I'm in Wal-Mart. I have will power dammit!!! And then I had dinner at Rita's last Thursday, who generously lent me her copy of the third book, telling me that this is actually the best one of the series. I finished the book in a day, and she didn't lie to me. Bad writing aside, Eclipse, as I learned the name from Rita that night, is actually better than the previous book (which doesn't really say much).

    So Rita has kindly offered to lend me the fourth book, which I'll probably end up reading even though I know I should not. To redeem myself of this guilty pleasure, I offer you guys some funny critiques of the series.
    • CRACKED.com points out exactly what is wrong with the series, with a sense of humour. This is honestly a good read.
    The thing is, if you think about it, I'm probably not the only one with this guilty pleasure, with all these crazy critiques of the series going around.

    Monday, March 30, 2009

    How to Stick Your Tongue Out

    I know I've been updating really often: it's indicative of how much time I spend in front of my computer NOT doing work. Today's topic is about sticking out your tongue.
    I often see people take pictures with their tongue sticking out, but it's often done really lamely
    Kinda like this:
    Note: Sticking out the tip of your tongue with your lips closed over it, defeats the entire purpose of sticking out your tongue. 
    Remember when you were a little kid and your mom told you it's rude to stick your tongue out? And then when you get lectured by someone and you dont want to listen, you show your dismay by sticking your tongue out at them? 
    The whole point of sticking your tongue out is to be gross, ugly, and insolent! Free yourself from conventions!  What's the point of taking a picture with your tongue sticking out like that? If you're worried that you won't look good, then don't do it at all. If you're going to do it, do it right!

    Happy Monday :D

    Sunday, March 29, 2009

    Clubbing in the TdOt

    Recently I've been uploading a few pictures of my friends and I at clubs on Facebook. At the same time, I've been tagged on photos at parties and club events. BUT some of these events happened a LONG time ago and all of a suddet everyone seems to be uploading their pictures. Going through facebook and seeing a bunch of pictures with me at clubs is just weird and it makes it feel like I go partying a lot, which is highly untrue. Here are the real recent partying pics for the last two months. It's really not that many. And I swear to you that I hate leaving the house due to the immense guilt of unfinished papers that overwhelms as soon as I change out of my PJs.

    Feb. 28th - Kenny's Bday at C-Lounge.

    Mar. 15th - Elvin's Bday at home in Waterloo.

    Mar. 20th - Eldon's Bday at Easy on the Fifth.

    Mar.19 - Adam's friend's bday at embassy

    What a trip last night. We needed to stay in Waterloo to do our work but adam didnt want to miss his friend's bday so we drove downtown from loo at 9pm and came back to loo at 4am. 
    See! I feel guilty for leaving my cave!!!

    Back to finishing my papers now!!

    Summer Schedule

    I found out on Friday that I was accepted into the Taiwanese Tech Trek program, which involves me doing a ~2 month internship in Taiwan. My placement is with Academia Sinica in their Research Centre for Humanities and Social Sciences,  specifically for their program of historical demography, which sounds really boring, but we'll see!

    Thankfully I bought my plane tickets scheduled around that time (i.e., June 24th-August 16th) early so it's only $1240!! Adam will be arriving June 28th and leaving some time mid-july. Hopefully i'll get somewhere nice to live and he can stay with me >.< 

    I will be arriving in Vancouver on the 18th of August and going to Seattle thereafter....

    Monday, March 16, 2009


    I just want to point out that I know going to Seattle is a big committment and I re-think my decision everyday, which is why I didn't really want to announce it on here. So for those of you who think that it is an irreversible decision, it is not. You might expect that I write a post on here one day declaring that I am no longer going with or without details of my reasoning.

    My Telus Cell Phone(s)

    I have a small dilemma. I own a crappy Motorola W385 that
    • Runs out of battery in approximately 1.5 days with no usage
    • Doesn't ring loud enough for anyone to hear
    • Also doesn't actually ring until the caller hears a second ring tone so people usually hang up by the time I pick up if I'm luck enough to even hear it.
    Needless to say, I am a bad person when it comes to phone calls. I rarely pick up because I either don't hear it or the phone is dead. Sometimes, it dies while I'm talking. (BTW, Motorolas are horrible when it comes to battery life, don't get them). The reason why this is my phone is simple: i lost my phone a few times. I had to spend as little money as I can on a new phone every time thus I am left with Pay and Talk phones from Telus for $100.

    It's been about a year-ish since I've had my W385 and I'm getting seriously sick of it. But as a CDMA user with a great company and a seriously cheap plan not on contract, I cannot buy a new phone as it will not carry over to Seattle. CDMA companies are mean like that. This means I either have to:
    1. Suck it up and use this damn phone for another 4 months-ish before I go to Seattle; or
    2. Buy a cheap second-hand phone.
    But what is cheap? Is paying $30 for a phone that's was released 2 years ago cheap? That seems to be the going rate on Craigslist. Having used Samsungs, Motorolas, and LGs, I have to say that if I am to get a new phone that I have to live with for the rest of my life, I'd use Samsung. The one that I've had my eyes on since last year is the Samsung A720 and the cheapest one I found on Craigslist is $50 (silver), which, imo is still considerably expensive considering how fast the retiring rate for phones are these days. To be honest, I would like to spend <$30 on this second hand phone that I may only use for approximately 4 months before it gets thrown into oblivion, as no one I know uses Telus. Ironically, although Telus has discontinued this phone for a while now, I just saw it on its Pay and Talk website for $69.99 refurbished with a $50 activation credit (pink). So for $20 more, I can have an almost brand new phone rather than a second hand phone that I've been wanting for so long?

    Hmmm.... Is it worth paying $69.99+tax for a phone I might only use for four months? My soon to be unemployed butt is unable to justify it.

    All I know is that the next time I get a cell phone, be it in Seattle or Toronto, I'm going to buy an expensive Samsung phone I like and I'm not going to lose it.

    Tuesday, March 3, 2009

    Going to Seattle

    Hello -

    Thank you for talking with us about opportunities at Microsoft. We appreciate your interest and the time you spent with us.

    We have carefully considered your qualifications and skills. In light of our current opportunities, we will be pursuing other candidates whose background and abilities more closely match our needs at this time. If you have any questions, please contact your school recruiter.

    Thank you again for your interest. We wish you success in your future academic and professional endeavors.


    College Recruiting

    During reading week, maybe around Wednesday, I got an E-mail from College recruiters at Microsoft informing me that I had a pre-screening interview for PM, if I get it, I get flown to Seattle for the real full-day interview. Rather than spending the rest of the reading week in Toronto, Adam and I came back to Waterloo on Friday to study for the interview (for those of you who don't know, interviews for PM are full of logistic questions to test your thinking skills so studying for the format is pretty important).

    Anyway, so after four grueling days of studying, I didn't get the position. Not that I really expected to get it, given my non-technical background, I'd really have had to impress them with my answers, which I didn't feel that I did. I was never really good with interviews.

    In the last couple of months, Adam and I have been applying for jobs in Seattle, mostly tech writing positions, because of my current experience. I have not heard a single reply since. I joke around and tell people that when I get to Seattle, I will actually get to be a full-time bum. As great as that can sound, I've been told that it's only fun for the first week. My mom also shakes her head and wonders why I pursue a Masters degree and decide to do nothing with it.

    Well, I mean, it's not that I really want to be a bum. Even without the recession, it wouldn't be easy for someone with a Master of English Rhetoric and Communications Design to find a job in the states that's willing to give you a working Visa.

    So where do I go from there? Honestly, I don't really know. Did I mention I'm moving to Seattle...sort of? It's not going to be easy leaving Toronto to live in a city that really has nothing going for me, except for my boyfriend. And well, it's not even like I can be a resident there, since I would need a Visa to stay there longer than 3-6 months or something. No health insurance, no legitimate driver's license, you get the point.

    In reality, I would imagine that I wouldn't be there for longer than three months, which is pretty long for someone without a job. Time only goes by fast when you have a job, and I've always had a job, since I was in grade 7. I can only imagine the fights that happen when Adam goes off to work in the morning coming home tired and I've been bored out of my mind wanting his attention. I can also imagine the nagging from him about different ways of finding a job and me lacking the motivation to look--it's not exactly encouraging when you don't hear replies. And the guilt of living off of someone else's salary. How will I get to go shopping and eat all the yummy food I'd like to try?

    But even before that...what about the move? There will be no goodbye parties, obviously, since who knows how long I can actually be there for. And what about the packing? Am I going to get turned away at the border for packing too much? How much should I pack? Can't pack too much in case i get turned away. Can't pack too little cuz I don't want to cross the border too many times, and it'd be expensive.

    It sounds like it's going to be stressful times. But then again, I've been pretty emo lately myself: that Microsoft interview had seriously drained my energy and then immediately afterwards I got incredibly sick despite no coughing and fever--just an extremely bad case of the sniffles. Can't breathe, can't focus, can't even get up from bed. Gotta get my life together again soon. In the meanwhile, gotta start on those papers I've been putting off and maybe start applying for jobs again.

    Someone hug me.

    *Edit: I just found out that a bunch of ppl from CS got rejected, so I feel a little better...I think...

    Thursday, February 26, 2009

    What a lil Brat(d)?

    I was unfortunately quite busy on Sunday doing some studying and could not make it in front of the TV for the 2009 81st Annual Oscars! So after doing much searching for the last couple of days, I was finally able to stream it on Need Movies. It was a really awesome show, probably the best one I've ever seen, so it's worth watching.

    The reasons I'm posting about this is to:
    • Let people know that there's a link that hasn't been taken down yet (at the moment I've posted this).

    • and

    • Show what a possible brat Brad Pitt was at the awards ceremony when Kate Winslet was announced to be best actress and not Angelina Jolie.
    Everyone stands up for a standing ovation for Kate Winslet, including Angelina Jolie, but Brad Pitt does not (See Part 12 of the link I gave out).

    1. Angelina tells him to stand up too.
    2. About ten seconds later, he finally does.
    3. Kate Winslet walks right by him since he's got the aisle seat at the front.

    Some theories:
    • He doesn't like Kate Winslet because she forgot Jolie's name during her Golden Globe acceptance speech
    • He had something on his leg/his leg was asleep and couldn't stand up right away.
    • He's upset that Angelina Jolie didn't win and supports her by not standing up.
    • He thinks Kate Winslet didn't deserve the Oscars/performance wasn't that good.
    You can decide.


    On another note, I almost forgot, my favourite dresses:
    Marisa Tomei's Versace Pleated dress (If you look carefully, the pleats are done so elaborately and intricately) and Heidi Klum's Roland Mouret fiery red origami dress. She wore a dress of the same colour last year which I liked a lot better, but this year's nice dresses were quite limited. Nothing memorable like Halle Berry's dress the year she won best actress or Gwenyth Paltrow's RL pink dress when she won.

    White was apparently the colour this year, surprisingly a lot of people came with silvery white, beige white, barly any color that looks like white. Needless to say, the show itself was a lot better than fashion this year. I blame it on skinny jeans, Ugg(lies), TNA, hoods with the fur, and lululemon pants. Ugg(h)!