Monday, December 31, 2007

the confetti from lifshitz's hair after new year's

hello from santiago!

Yo. This is the first of an unknown number of updates from the trip. I finally got around to finding out the Wi-Fi password at our hotel, so I'm rocking the phone.

Anyway, it's New Year's Eve. Tonight we'll be heading downtown for the countdown and fireworks. Earlier today we went to a winery (Concha y Toro) for a tour. It was quite the adventure. We got to take the metro to the outskirts of the city, where we were supposed to catch a bus. However, it wasn't as straightforward as that - it wasn't clear where the bus stop was or exactly which one to take. After using my Spanish skills and talking to a few people, we found the right bus to take.

It was an interesting ride. We actually took a minibus, not a big bus. When we were boarding some guy came on board with us to sell ice cream. Later, someone came on and played guitar for the rest of the trip. He was actually pretty good!

The wine tour was also great. Great tour (delivered in Spanish, which I understood 80% of) and also partially in English because the guide knew we didn't really know Spanish. And great wine too!

So we've been here about two days and I feel like I'm settling in - getting bus tickets in Spanish and everything. Tomorrow we'll go on a hike to get a look of the city. We already did this day one, but we didn't have our cameras (because it was really supposed to be a run, that ended up being a three hour walk). We'll take photos. After that, we take a bus and head over to Mendoza, Argentina!

riding the subway in Santiago

Saturday, December 29, 2007

hello from hotlanta!

Friday, December 28, 2007

and i'm off

Heading to bed. With any luck, you'll be getting the occasional post and photo from while I'm away in South America. If no updates here, check here.

Quick Itinerary:
Santiago, Chile - for the New Year!
Mendoza, Argentina - any Malbec fans out there?
San Rafael, Argentina - chill at a friend's mom's B&B
Buenos Aires, Argentina - perhaps hop across to Uraguay for S&G's?
El Calafate, Argentina - My second Glacier National Park. Still haven't made it to the one in the US.
Parque Torres del Paine, Chile - badass hikes
Puerto Natales, Chile - because we couldn't find lodging in the park all nights
Punta Arenas, Chile - Penguins?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

three weeks of clothes

Looks like I have room for boots!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

thanks, jerks

My hard drive on my desktop is running out of space, so I'm cleaning house. I'm a bit surprised at some of the culprits:

  • Google Talk
    Apparently the archive of auto updates isn't cleared out. Saved a good 20MB or so.

  • Apple iPod, iTunes
    I saw over 100MB of updaters laying dormant in my Program Files folder. Uninstalled. Result? 1.1GB released. I have no idea where the hell that came from, but that ain't right! UPDATE: Just found another half gig of old iTunes and iPod updaters in Windows\Downloaded Installations. Thanks again, jerks.

  • Java Updates
    About half a gig of old versions chillin' in Program Files. Unfortunately I need to restart for changes to take effect. Saved about a quarter gig. I'll take it.

stupid photo of the day


I continue to bore with talk about my phone... but then again, it is novel to have my iPod crash, right? I've had Safari bail on me a few times so far, but this is the first time the music player threw up chunks. That said, I still haven't had to reboot this thing yet, which is quite an accomplishment considering I would have to reboot my Blackjack every few days.

Last weird use was listen to music while using the timer (I was making dinner) while using the calculator... Then my mom called. Handled gracefully. I still like to think about how my Blackjack was stuck in an endless loop of ringing one time when I got a call while doing e-mail. I had to take the battery out. T'was amusing though.

So I'm back in New Haven. I should be packing... or planning. I'll get to that after food.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

merry christmas, from a chinese restaurant

more about my phone usage

So over the past week I've gotten incredibly adept at killing my phone's battery almost at will over the course of a few hours. And no, it hasn't been from me calling tons of people to keep in touch - it's been through liberal web browsing and music listening.

Yep, it's a new phone. Allegedly it has much better battery life than the Samsung Blackjack that I was hang before, but I guess I'm using it a lot more. For example, I'm using it right now to write this blog entry while sitting in bed listening to it play music. So although I guess it has terrible battery life as a phone, I could look at it as a laptop that's incredibly portable that also has decent battery life. After all, that's how I am using it, right?

And yes, there are definitely some quirks. Like how I can check e-mail in landscape mode, how it doesn't know how to automatically insert the apostrophe in "it's" when appropriate, etc. But then again, I'm using it for obscene things like this (which I never would have done with my Blackjack) so I suppose it's definitely good enough. But then again, I did find a few easily correctable usability flaws regarding consistency... Yeah, I'd rather it be perfect. (-:

And Merry Christmas! Let's go eat some Chinese food!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

more good times in cleveland

Heading over to Tommy's for dinner tonight. I'll be having the kick-ass banana milkshake with real banana and either a spinach pie or a meat pie. No, not as tasty as the meat pies down in New Zealand, but good in its own way.

Bonus activity was helping my dad fix the toilet... just like old times. We don't need no stinkin' plumber! Just like we don't need no stinkin' mechanic! Plan for tomorrow morning: change the oxygen sensor and check the rear brakes... and probably rotate some tires. I'll save the oil change for when the engine is a little warmer - so the oil will actually flow out.

Friday, December 21, 2007


Just testing photo-blogging from the phone.

update from cleveland

Back in Cleveland:
Cleveland as I remember it in the winter. A few inches of snow, salt everywhere. Yup. So far this break has been a bit different, but it's also been a good break so far. I've been able to meet up with a bunch of people at work, have found excuses to drive around all my old 'hoods, met up with the Wongs, and even had breakfast at the Inn on Coventry for the first time (and now I feel like I missed out by not going there during the 2+ years I lived a 10 minute walk away).

I'm actually pretty happy to see that I still know my way around all sorts of weird side streets in Cleveland Hts and East Cleveland. Yes, I know my way around East Cleveland - the trick is to avoid Euclid Ave because the lights on that road are totally screwed up. I just hate being in the middle of one of the worst neighborhoods in the U.S. sitting at an intersection for several minutes while the lights are red for both streets. Yes, it's that amazing. I was surprised to find that they barricaded Coit. I used to cut through there to get to E 152nd. No, not smart. It's dark, goes under a bridge, and literally every house on it is boarded up. I suppose that's their way of dealing with crime - putting in a few dead potted plants in the middle of the road.

I also got to drive around my old haunts in Willoughby. Yeah, I've lived there too. Went to my trusty Murray's on Vine and also did the regular weekend drive from place to my parents' place.

In case you didn't notice, I like to reminisce and have attachment to some pretty weird things - like roads... and inanimate objects... like my car or my eraser. Anyway... that's another deeper more boring discussion, perhaps never to be had. OK... I will talk about the roads. I drive a lot. I've driven on a lot of roads. There are also certain roads that are really familar (the road to DC, the road to Pittsburgh, the road to Toronto, the road to New Haven) that I've drove a lot on and I realize that I'll probably never drive on those roads again (unless I move back to the east coast - hah!). For example, my drive back to New Haven in a few days will probably be the last time I'll ever drive that insanely boring stretch of I-80 in Pennsylvania (featuring the spot near the highest point on I-80 east of the Mississippi where I had a bathroom emergency on the side of the road in the snow (-; ). In June I'll probably do the drive from DC to Cleveland for the final time, and perhaps also the final drive from Pittsburgh to Cleveland and Toronto to Cleveland.

That said, I'm got plenty of new roads to explore out in the Northwest - ones with much more rewarding scenery. It's also a great excuse to drive across the country for a third time in my trust 1993 Honda Accord. It's at a youthful 177k miles. I'm changing the oil, checking the left-rear brake clip, and probably changing the oxygen sensor (no more cheap-ass Bosch crap!) on Sunday. Good times. I was going to write about something else...

Site of the Day:
Let's face it. I can be anal. What's better than a site that makes it easier to be both anal and a cheap bastard? Before Yale SOM, I used to keep detailed track of my expenses - not that I really spent money on anything. Since then, I've found I haven't found the effort to do this. This site makes it a bit easier - mostly through good placement. I can enter stuff from my iPhone (yes... I've got one... just like everyone else and their mom) as well as from my iGoogle page. Yes, I continue to do competitive intelligence for Microsoft!

Challenge of the day:
Can someone figure out the lyrics to Conner's song Window Shopping? You can listen to it here: Great album, btw.

And one final question: What kind of break is this? I have lunch appointments every day, I'm still doing Student Government stuff, I'm knee deep in trip planning, and also doing Technology Club stuff... oh... and a Winter Break Social tonight. I suppose I am getting sleep though - and I am enjoying. A week or two of doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING would be nice though. Maybe later... for now if I get two weeks I'm still traveling. What's for Spring Break?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

you know who you are

Who I message, and who messages me back. Data from the billing period covering November, 2007.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

turn off the lights

Just swapped in a CFL bulb. 12W instead of 60W. At $1, it will pay for itself in about 4 weeks (3 hours use daily, 25 cents per kWh... electricity is expensive here).

It wouldn't matter so much if people just turned off the lights like they are supposed to.

Monday, December 10, 2007


I've been thinking about whether or not I should go ahead and buy an iPod Touch or an iPhone. iPhone because I think it has an awesome browser, but at the same time it's heavier than my current phone (Samsung Blackjack) and probably won't be as good for texting since it doesn't have a full QWERTY keypad (complete with tactile feedback). So what about an iPod Touch? Well, it still has the great browser, which would be fantastic for travel, but I also realize that it would be nonsensical to carry that and my phone with me whenever I'm not traveling. No, I don't use my iPod much.

Speaking of, my iPod mini, purchased over 3 years ago in 2004 is still running like a champ. Haven't recharged this thing in over a week. Plus it's been running on empty for the last hour. Yes, I did change the battery, but still great for a technology perspective.

Some other perspectives:
1) My iPod mini is over three years old
2) My iPod mini has come with me to Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Morocco, Costa Rica, and Canada. We have driven across the country three times (four if you count Cleveland to New Orleans).
3) I have owned this iPod for over 1/8th of my life.
4) I have known this iPod twice as long as I have known anyone here at Yale SOM! (ouch!)

Saturday, December 01, 2007

spam continues to impress me

After reading Scott's hilarious blog entry about funny spam subject lines, I decided to check my spam folder to see what wonders lay within. After finding some amusing subject lines of my own (such as "Make your dik the envy of all your dudes in year 2008!"), I came across an interesting piece of spam that I suspect makes use of facebook or some other social networking site.

Why do I say this? The spam included the names of two people that I knew. The spam was sent from an account with the name Hande, which isn't really a common name. The subject line also had the name Manisha, also not the most common name (though admittedly more common than Hande).

So what were they trying to sell me? I have no idea. YOU tell ME.

Try no sometimes both form enough sea ways. Name to far or too good never white of do. Three go again very his as times only.

Few few why came hear way what hard because set. Him most sentence water last then. Thought now so need of because below.

Three and began of sometimes enough why some. Means animals together called off often with animals near told. Do look land father. Them of life them land many himself come.

Try no sometimes both form enough sea ways.
Name to far or too good never white of do.
Three go again very his as times only.

Few few why came hear way what hard because set.
Him most sentence water last then.
Thought now so need of because below.

Three and began of sometimes enough why some.
Means animals together called off often with animals near told.
Do look land father.
Them of life them land many himself come.

Monday, November 19, 2007

vinny vinny!

For those of you who watch the NFL, we are about to watch some drama unfold this year... and my guess is that it will somehow be overlooked by those crazy stats guys who work for the TV networks. So what is this drama?

Vinny Testaverde is likely to achieve the milestone of being sacked for negative 3,000 yards for this illustrious NFL career. Yep... He's just 26 yards shy.

As a comparison, Jon Kitna, another favorite journeyman QB only 1,715 yards lost. Another interesting stat is that while Kitna has fumbled 94 in 118 games (almost a fumble a game), Testaverde only has 71 fumbles... in 230 games (or one in three).

So what about Favre? He'll probably make the mark next year. Right now he's only got 2,884 yards lost on sacks.

Friday, November 09, 2007

idiotic proposals

Route 1 - Similar to this year's. See the same people, see different stuff.

Route 2 - The drive across Canada on the Trans-Canada Highway. Yes, starting in NB.
I like Canada. Lack of A/C makes this appealing, the strength of the Canadian Dollar doesn't.

Route 3 - The entire length of I-80
Pointless. I don't even get to see any new states.


Came across this while I was cleaning up my bookmarks (like a dork). So what sort of IDIOT will drive across the country by HIMSELF in five days?

The Return Trip

My love with I-90:
We went ALL THE WAY!
I was within half a mile of I-90 the entire trip across except for seeing my parents in Cleveland

So what next? I need to think of how I'll drive back across when I move to Seattle. I'll probably swing through Texas again (because I have friends there). I'd like to check out Arches National Park, maybe the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Hrm... Might as well hit up Zion again? Perhaps swing north to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone? I'll think about it.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Some entertainers remain successful over time by reinventing themselves. Madonna, Leonardo DiCaprio, to name a few. Sylvester Stallone, once known for his gutsy roles such as Rocky Balboa and Rambo, is now facing a turning point in his career. At the ripe age of 61, he can no longer rely on the same formula that has been so successful for him in the past. So what does he do? He reinvents himself.

Rather than play the role of a hero in his prime, Stallone has transformed himself into the aging action star that can play the role of an over-the-hill hero who can still get in a good punch before bursting a vein and collapsing. He pioneered this with his role as Rocky Balboa in Rocky Balboa, and will be looking to continue his success with his new film, Rambo.

So what's next for Stallone after Rambo? Perhaps Death Race 2010 or
Cash and Tango which could help Stallone revive the career of fellow actor Kurt Russell.

Some other Stallone movies with sequel potential:
  • Cobra
  • Judge Dredd
  • Over the Top
  • Cop Land
  • Get Carter

Sunday, November 04, 2007

green is universal

I'm watching Sunday Night Football right now and they're doing this thing saying "Green is Universal" where they are promoting conservation. They even have the lights off in the studio! They're also saying that they'll start shutting down the studio each night. Shouldn't they be doing that anyway?

Anyway, if you really want to save energy, just the the obvious things like turn off the lights when you aren't using them, buy energy saving bulbs, and don't make gratuitous use of electricity of fuel. That means you, Alissa... and David! I know that you left the lights on in the apartment over the summer. There's no other reason why the electricity would go up when 2 of the 3 people move out.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

travel plans

October break (Yes, first years get exams, second years get a week off!) - Mexico
Winter Break - Chile y Argentina

Saturday, September 29, 2007

oh, hello

It's been a while. I suppose you can say that I've been busy. You can also say that I've been chilling out a lot. It's really a bit of both.

I've been busy:
  • Taking 5 classes right now
  • Doing my bit as the leader for the Technology Club
  • Doing my bit as the head of the Academic Committee for Student Government
  • Did my bit as the coordinator for the SOM blog
  • Spending a bit of time talking to people about careers at Microsoft
  • Being an SYA (second year advisor) for the Leadership Development Program
  • Spending a bit of time helping people with resumes and cover letters
  • Actually getting around to working out a few times a week
I've been chillin:
  • Actually getting around to working out a few times a week
  • Spending lots of quality time with the study group
  • Lots of hanging out
So details... classes are going well. It's surprising because the classes that I thought would be the worst are the classes that I feel like I'm getting the most out of while the classes that are supposed to be great I'm finding mediocre. You could interpret this however you want. I'll say that there's something for everyone and maybe in the future I should just pick classes that people don't like. I know I like my stuff much much much more abstract than most people and much much much faster paced than most.

Overall, my month back at business school has been fun. Lots of socializing with both the first year class and the second year class. It's also nice because everything I'm doing now is stuff that I want to do. I'm still busy, but I like how it at least *feels* like I have command of what really needs to be done. And yes, having a job certain helps. I finally accepted my offer to return to Microsoft, so expect to see many more hiking photos in the future!

My plans for today? Maybe go over to the soccer fields to see the Yale SOM soccer tournament, head over to East Rock Park to play some Ultimate frisbee, have some dinner with friends (time, location, and friends TBD), then head over to Playwright's for the post-soccer-tournament get-together. Hopefully I'll see some of the people that I met over the summer from CMU and HBS there. We shall see...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Or Vayner?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


I wonder when school starts...

Monday, September 03, 2007

no love from google

As some would say, Google Docs really sucks the bag. Earlier this year I trusted Google Spreadsheets with my anal record-keeping spreadsheets. You know, the ones about my car's maintenance history and my spending habits and the like that make for really boring blog posts. Today I'm bringing everything back to Excel. Office 2007 is like crack. Once you get hooked, you can't get off. Anyway...

What up with Google Spreadsheets and:
  • How it just throws away formatting data?
  • How it can't remember the last sheet I was on?
  • How it's as slow as cold molasses?
  • How it discards my formatting data? (it's so annoying, it gets listed twice)
I guess I'm done. But if the little annoying things are so bad that I won't bother with the rest of its capabilities (whatever those are), that's bad enough. Google Spreadsheets, goodbye.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

love from google

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Monday, August 20, 2007

west coast, east coast, midwest? which will it be?

I'm so confuzzled. OK... I'm not confused at all. West Coast is where it's at (sorry, Lifshitz).

It's 7:15PM... I mean 9:15PM and I'm in Albert Lea, Minnesota. I have a lot to share, but not too much time/effort. Here's a list of observations from my trip, in no particular order. Photos to come later.
  • Eastern Washington state is beautiful. Nice rolling hills. People say there's nothing out there. There isn't.
  • Spokane is like a small Portland.
  • There was construction on almost the entire stretch of I-90 in Idaho.
  • Montana has a lot of mountains, hence the name Montana.
  • There were wildfires all over Montana. I was driving through smoke almost the entire way from Missoula to Rapid City. That's a distance of over 700 miles. Made me feel better about not having time to visit Devil's Tower and Mt. Rushmore. The people visiting wouldn't have seen much of anything with the smoke.
  • At first I thought the smoke by Billings was from the refinery that was next to the hotel. Then I realized that it was from the fires. Saw some helicopters flying over to the lake to pick up buckets of water to bring to the fire.
  • Southwestern Minnesota smells like poop. Then again, I have to drive through Gary, Indiana tomorrow. I'd rather it smell like poop from cows than from smog.
  • I thought that after getting to Minnesota I'd be back in civilization. Yes, they dropped to speed limit to 70mph and they started setting up speed traps, but still no traffic. 7pm I had the entire highway to myself - about 10 miles between me and the next car. How did I get 10 miles? I saw cars when I was getting towards the end of a 20 mile straight stretch of road.
  • I saw a funny name for a convenience store (or "C-Store" as they like to write out). Kome-n-Go.... or was it Kum-n-Go? Sadly, I didn't get the photo.
  • This morning when I was having breakfast at the Holiday Inn Express in Billings, Montana, literally half the guys (4/8) in the lobby had cowboy hats on.
  • I am annoyed at the 85 octane gas they sell in South Dakota.
  • I am even more confused by the 85.5 octane gas in Montana.
  • They used to have no speed limit in Montana, saying that your speed had to be "reasonable and prudent." Since then, it's been changed back to 75mph. In western Montana, driving 75mph is not reasonable and prudent. More like 70mph if your car handles well.
  • Eastern Montana is like West Texas. Open road, no people. So much land you don't even bother to notice the occasional refinery.
  • I still think the Badlands are over-rated. I remember thinking that the first time when I was coming from the East. Still over-rated coming from the West.
  • Conservatives must love I-90. The periodic signs about abortion, drugs, etc. Nice touch.
  • I noticed the price for the Tendercrisp combo at Burger King dropped about 50 cents every 300 miles. $6.49-ish in Couer D'Alene, Idaho. $5.99-ish in Billings, Montana. $5.49-ish just west of Rapid City, South Dakota. BK rules I-90 apparently. What do you want me to do? Starve? I'm having Applebee's right now.
  • A "prime" exit has 2+ gas stations and 2+ fast food options (national chains for both). So far on this route, prime exits come every 150 miles or so. Planning ahead has paid off.
  • I saw this caravan of an RV and a car with Washington plates today heading east. They had a canoe. At first I thought it was cool that they were going on a trip and have come as far as I have. Then I realized that they were in the middle of nowhere in South Dakota with a boat. Why the hell would you leave Washington to go anywhere with a canoe? And of all places, why South Dakota? Or even Minnesota???
  • South Dakota has by far the best random man-made attractions. Wall Drug literally had signs for 30 miles. Seemed like one every quarter mile. All different. Then there is the Corn Palace in Mitchell. I didn't go to either one. No time. )-:
  • People with Minnesota plates drive slow. It's like they think they're from the Northwest. I have some news for you. Sure, Minnesota was part of the Northwest Territory, but it is certainly not part of the northwest.
  • People in Montana were pretty good at using lanes. I like that.
  • South Dakota license plates look like Louisiana license plates.
  • Idaho plates look like Ohio plates.
  • It seemed like every car with Iowa plates was a Buick.
  • The last real city I've seen was Spokane, Washington. I guess I-90 only passes through a few "real" cities. Seattle, Spokane, Madison, Chicago, Toledo (it makes the list if Spokane does), Cleveland, Buffalo, and Boston. Note that I've only passed two of them so far.
  • Only three cities on I-90 have anything resembling traffic: Seattle, Chicago, Boston.
Today's winner is Swift, coming in with 11. Runner up is FedEx with 7.
Also in the running were: CRST - 6, Wal-Mart - 5, Sysco - 4, Coca-Cola - 3, Hey! - 2, Rude - 2, UPS - 2

Friday, August 17, 2007

so what's the plan?

Leave Seattle at 7:00am.
Get on I-90 at the very end at Safeco Field.
Lunch at BK and gas at Couer D'Alene, ID.
Get gas at Missoula, MT.
Get gas at Laurel, MT or Billings, MT.
Stay at the Holiday Inn Express on the east side of Billings, MT.

Shed a tear for not having time to visit Devil's Tower in WY.
Lunch and gas at Sturgis, SD.
Check out the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD.
Get gas at Sioux Falls, SD.
Stay at the Holiday Inn Express in Albert Lea, MN.

Lunch and gas at Janesville, WI.
Stay at my parents' place in Shaker Heights, OH.

Visit my brother.
Pick up a replacement rear left brake caliper that I just ordered from the Mayfield Murray's.
Replace the rear left brake caliper.
Change my brake fluid.
Change my oil.
Replace the oxygen sensor.
Stay another night at my parents' place in Shaker Heights, OH.

Leave at about 7:00am.
Get gas in Beachwood, OH on my way out.
Lunch and gas somewhere on the NY Thruway.
Finish the length of I-90 at Logan International Airport sometime around 6pm.
Dinner at someplace of Katie's choice in Boston.
Stay at Katie and Al's place in Boston, MA.

Depending on time, maybe drop by my place and unload the car.
LDP Planning Meeting at noon in A-48
LDP Group Meeting at 2:00pm
SYA Dinner at 5:00pm

Thursday, August 16, 2007

boo silverstar, update 2

So last night I drove over to the Amtrak station to pick up Greg. Yes, Amtrak. It sucks. Train showed up 2 hours late or something.

But anyway, he pointed out that I was missing a headlight. I went to take a look, and sure enough, I was down one. I've replaced it this morning.

Checking back on my records, the bulb that blew was a Sylvania 9006ST, a standard halogen bulb rated to last 1000 hours. I installed this bulb March 11, 2002, when my car had only 104,078 miles on it. Now, almost 5 and a half years later and 67,379 more miles on the car, I'm replacing the bulb.

So how does this compare to the Silverstar that I've been ragging on? The Silverstar light bulb that my dad installed lasted almost exactly a year. It was rated for 150 hours. My bulb lasted 5 years, 5 months. It was rated at 1000 hours. So 150-180 hours of use a year. Reasonably close.

Here's the empirical data:
Silverstar: ~1 year
Standard Halogen: 4 years, 3 weeks; 5 years, 5 months

Did I mention that the Silverstar costs about four times as much?

Original Post
Update 1

Saturday, August 11, 2007


Finally got a full look at this seemingly ridiculous ad. It's for a drug to relieve restless leg syndrome. Potential side effects?

Drowsiness or falling asleep during normal activities... like driving
Feeling faint or dizzy when standing up
Gambling or sexual, or other intense urges


vern fonk

Thank you, late night TV. My life is now complete.

Friday, August 10, 2007

making lemonade

So as the saying goes, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Well, today I was busy making lemonade.

A bit of context. Today was the first of two days of presentations about the state of the competition. In attendance were a number of the Group Program Managers as well as our VP. For me, I was responsible for a 30 minute presentation covering my little piece of the Windows Live offering. Good times.

I had my slides ready, I had my demos scripted, so what could go wrong? A lot. A few days before I started getting a sore throat, and I was pretty certain that I was going to lose my voice right around the time of the presentation. This morning I woke up, and crap. My voice was pretty much gone. Great. I figured I'd just deal with it. Practice using a deeper voice and not using the same intonations that I usually use and I should be good, right? Issue number 1 resolved... kinda...

Not quite... a few more technical difficulties. Google Calendar, one of the sites that I was going to demo was behaving pretty strangely in the morning. First off, things were just acting weird. Then after a bit, the whole thing just shut down. Issue number 2. Thankfully, it came back up shortly afterward, but not much that I could have done in that time frame as CYA if it decided to die again.

Third issue? When I got to the building where the presentations were taking place, my laptop was having some issues getting a network connection. I wasn't the only one. Quite a few people were having the same issue. Thankfully, Alpa found a solution so the network was up and running a few minutes before the presentations started. Without a network connection, most of my demos wouldn't have been possible.

Fourth issue. So I knew that the combination of my laptop, external monitor, and powerpoint slide shows spells trouble. The presentation mode likes being on the main screen and there is no way to change it (annoying). So in preparation, I spent a few hours in the morning running an external monitor under some pretty terrible settings just so I can just plug and go at the real presentations. Well... it didn't work out so well. First off, my laptop reverted to the dual display setting which Powerpoint doesn't like. Thankfully, I had the control panel handy to change the settings again. Problem solved, right? Wrong. The software problem had turned into a hardware problem. My luck had it so that my laptop's VGA port flaked out on my at that precise moment. End result? Swapped laptops. Good thing I had a reasonably up to date copy of my presentation out on the Sharepoint server (yes, the occasional Microsoft plug). Phew.

The unfortunate thing about the laptop swap is that I didn't have my two browsers open with the sites that I needed for the demo. Why two browsers? Because IE7 had been flaking out on me all morning... especially with Facebook (I did a side by side comparison. For some reason IE7 just didn't feel like loading Facebook for a while even though it worked fine on FireFox. It continued to load other sites fine). I knew the order of sites that I needed, so that wasn't going to be a big issue. The bigger issue ended up being me not knowing what login and password I use for certain sites. 30 Boxes, for example, I completely botched. I was trying as my e-mail, and a variety of passwords. Somehow I managed to integrate this into my demo. It made a really nice premature segue into how 30 Boxes in integrated into Facebook. Basically after two failed attempts I explained that I forgot the login information because 30 Boxes is so easy it never asks me to log in and that I could bypass my whole login fiasco by just accessing the thing directly from Facebook... which I did... while crossing my fingers hoping Facebook wouldn't ask me for the 30 Boxes login information either. It didn't. Issue number 5 solved.

At the end of the whole thing I just couldn't help but laugh at the situation and how many things went wrong. It's like my visit to Kellogg. Hopefully this has better results.

What do I mean by that? I have my final review next week on Tuesday. We shall see. (-:

By the way, does anyone know where the scenes in the Paul Newman film Hole in the Wall Gang was filmed? Reminds me of Zion National Park and Canyon de Chelly. Shaker Heights, baby!

Thursday, August 09, 2007


Apologies for the low effort post, but I'm busy at work. Seriously. More on that later.

At 7:00am PST, I'll be beginning my drive across the country on I-90, end to end.

And excerpt from WSDOT:

Washington is the western terminus of the nation’s longest Interstate Route. Interstate 90 is 3,020 miles long, stretching from Seattle, Washington to Boston, Massachusetts and crosses 13 states. Much of the route through Washington replaced US 10, which was decertified as a US route in 1969.

Interstate 90 crosses 13 states: Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Massachusetts.

Interstate 90 features two floating bridges: The “Lacey V. Murrow Memorial Bridge” and the “Homer M. Hadley Memorial Bridge.”

And of course, gotta check out Wikipedia's article on I-90.

Friday, July 27, 2007

vista really really sucks

If only it were fast. Someone once made the comparison that it takes longer to do a task under Vista than it did to perform the same task on an early Mac. I think that claim may be exaggerated, but the speed of the OS is certainly a huge issue. Huge enough that I'll bitch about it here even though they're helping me pay the bills. Perhaps Microsoft should think of it this way - if Vista was fast, I'd be a hell of a lot more productive than I am right now.

My general gripe with performance is that the OS can be so unresponsive at times that it's like a flashback to the days of old. See below.

The examples:

Booting up:
I love the Standby feature and how well it works in XP. I can close my laptop, reopen it and I'm right back where I left off in a matter of a few seconds. When I first got my new
2.0GHz 2GB laptop, I tried the lovely Standby feature only to discover that it took much longer to come back out from it's slumber and my network connections would also be permanently dead. Solution: Hibernation. I used hibernation back when I was on Windows 2000 because Standby still left the fan on for my laptop back then. Because it keeps all my work open, it's still better than a full reboot, and it's a whole lot faster. So how does XP do hibernation? Poorly. Without taking measurements, it takes just about as long to come out of hibernation, if not longer. Every morning I come in, plug in my laptop, press the power button, go to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee, then come back to my laptop. Regularly I still see the white on black text for loading the BIOS for some components. Occassionally I get the Vista splash screen. Usually though I see the login screen. Sometimes it responds to Ctrl+Alt+Del, sometimes it doesn't. If it does, sometimes it's ready to take my password, sometimes I need to give it a few moments to think and try again. Afterwards logging in is when the real adventures take place. About once a month, I can get up an running within a minute or two of logging in. Usually it takes more along the order of ten minutes. Yesterday I rolled in at 9:53 from a meeting thinking that I would have plenty of time to shoot over an e-mail to some people to let them know I'd be OK to meet at 10am. Long story short(er), the e-mail didn't make it. Instead, I walked downstairs to deliver the message in person, hoping Robin could relay the message over to Caroline. Too late. No meeting. After getting back upstairs, my laptop was still churning away. I couldn't change windows, I couldn't open programs. My laptop was working, but doing its best to ignore me. It was 10:07, almost 15 minutes since I had tried to bring it out of its deep sleep. What does the experience remind me of? It reminds me of trying to browse Web sites over dial-up, but worse. Even that was usually more responsive.

General sluggishness:
I'm not sure if this is IE7, Outlook 2007, Office 2007, of Vista, but my guess is Vista. You may be asking how I came to classify this as general sluggishness. Let me try to paint a clearer picture. I find myself attempting to do basic tasks, like closing windows, moving windows, opening programs twice. Why? Because it takes longer than expected. Don't get me wrong - this doesn't happen all the time, but it certainly happens enough to piss me off. If I ask for a simple task like closing a window, just close it! Same with opening an e-mail outside of the preview pane. It's just an e-mail! I can open Photoshop 7.0 on my XP laptop in just about the same amount of time. That's just ridiculous. Perhaps it's because I'm used to how responsive XP is. Or maybe today's developers are so far removed from the days of 8MHz computers that they no longer even think of responsiveness. I don't know, but what I do know is that the amount of waiting that goes on reminds me of when computers used floppies and I would know when I would expect to have to wait for the computer to complete complex or I/O intensive commands. I haven't had to do that for years. It's as if I'm living in the past.

Vista isn't all bad though. And some things are fast. The photo viewer app is MUCH faster than the one in XP. I can't seem to understand how they still haven't figured out how to rotate images automatically for display based on EXIF information. Flickr can do it. Freeware jUploadr can do it. Why the hell can't Microsoft's photo utility do it?

Monday, July 23, 2007


You may have wondered where I've disappeared to recently. Um... I've been eating. Here's a summary of the exploits:

Weekend #1
Friday, July 13 - Dinner - Benihana

University, right by the I-5 on-ramp, Seattle, WA
Benihana is meh as usual. I only go to these places when there is a group going and I feel like socializing. I suppose the prices are reasonable, especially with the Prime Card discount (courtesy of Microsoft), but I would really much rather either somewhere else. If I want to eat steak or fish, I can do a better job doing it myself. If I want a cooking experience, then I'm not Paul Ip. I just want good food. Atmosphere, entertainment value, etc. take a back seat.

The other caveat is that I used to work at one of these places. As a result, nothing came as a surprise (well... mostly). The performance was OK. Nothing fantastic. Actually, the onion volcano thing went poorly. I'm not sure if others picked up on it, but it just wasn't done right. The soup and salad were exactly like I remembered it. The food was overcooked. The shrimp sauce was not as unhealthy as it used to be, which is a shame, because it used to be good. Anyway... the highlight was the sushi bar. $1 hand rolls. Cheap!

Saturday, July 14th - Breakfast - Mee Sum Bakery
By Pike Place Market
Even though we dropped by at 8am, they had no pineapple buns (or whatever they are called in English). Disappointing. Their pork buns are pretty good. The curry beef buns are just OK. Highlight? The baked pork buns (and the location). Lowlight? In three attempts, I have never been able to procure a pineapple bun. Damn it!

Saturday, July 14th - Lunch - Shanghai River
Westminster Highway, past No. 3 Rd, Richmond, BC
Good place. We were lucky to get a seat in this place. Their food was excellent as usual, although the Xiao Long Bao were a bit smaller than I prefer. Overall, solid. We ate other stuff too, but obviously this one item was the highlight. Highlight? Xiao loong bao. Lowlight? Whatever Alissa ordered.

Saturday, July 14th - Dinner - Richmond Sushi
Off No. 3 Rd, towards Bridgeport, Richmond, BC
We gorged ourselves. I forgot to mention - it's all you can eat. Not the highest quality, and I didn't really like the color of the tuna, but overall passable sushi. Plus, they have other items that you can get - like chicken wings and the like. $180 for six people (before tip) is pretty good for unlimited sushi and some drinks. The unagi was pretty decent, the tuna seemed sketchy, and no ika. Overall, I'd go again if I was with a group of people crawing massive quantities of raw fish. Probably not cheaper than getting some crazy sashimi at 5888 Cambie, though. Highlight? Gorging opportunity. Lowlight? Not *that* cheap and seems like they can have sketchy quality.

Weekend #2:
Thursday, July 19 - Dinner - Kau Kau BBQ
My parents wanted to go to the International District. I should have been stronger with my warnings. It sucked. Despite the rave reviews on yelp, I have to say that I have never been so disappointed with an "authentic-ish" Chinese meal before in my life. The Chinese Broccoli was chopped in ways the made no sense. My only explanation is that they had some that was beginning to turn and they chopped off the parts that have spoiled. The roast pork was the fattiest I've had. Not that I don't like fat, but this was like eating bacon is char sui sauce. I like bacon, but it's prepared a bit different. The cooking overall was pretty poor. The plate of vegetables and the pan fried noodles (chow mein... the real kind) were very meh. How meh? Those are two dishes that I've prepared myself before, and I have NEVER done such a crappy job with it. Not even on my first attempt where I was basically winging it. To add insult, the service was poor, we had to wait for our crappy food, and it wasn't even cheap. Bottom line: don't go here. Highlight? Leaving. Lowlight? Not being able to come up with a plausible reason for why the food is so terrible.

Friday, July 20 - Lunch - Noble Court
140th St, across from the Safeway, Bellevue, WA
I don't need a well appointed interior. I don't need a place to be super clean. I just want good food. That's why Noble Court works for me. Great food. The stuff that comes out on trays seems to be for a different audience (if you know what I mean), but if you avoid that, it's fine. The kitchen did a fantastic job keeping up with business that day and the food just kept coming out. The flow of lunch business also made sure that the food stayed fresh. A good combination, in my book. Highlight? They have a great variety of good dumplings. I like. Lowlight? A little pricey considering the dinginess of the place.

Friday, July 20 - Dinner - Umi Sake House
1st Ave, Belltown, Seattle, WA
I'm almost always happy with this place. This time was no exception. It's one of the rare occasions where I actually like a place that has a nice interior and service and everything - not to mention a good looking staff. (-; So we had four people, and we ordered $50 of sashimi, $30 of sushi, and $22 in rolls. About $25 a head, which is only a tad more than the $23 a head at the all-you-can-eat place in Richmond. Only difference here is that the quality of the food is fantastic, and we got some pretty good stuff. The great thing about this place (aside from what I've already mentioned) is that the platters aren't just filled with cheap stuff. So far they have always featured uni, which is some of the most expensive stuff out there. This time we also got toro and some shrimp sashimi. Good stuff. In the end, I was stuffed. I suppose I'd take this over Richmond Sushi. Yum! Highlight? The sashimi and the wait staff. Lowlight? Can be pricey if you don't get one of their huge special rolls to fill up (that's the trick).

Saturday, July 21 - Lunch - HKYK
No. 3 Rd, across from the Acura dealership, Richmond, BC
This place is solid as usual... and packed. Very good dim sum. Their har gow wasn't as good as some other places, but definitely good. They also had some good xiao loong bao. Why is that important? It's important because it means that by eating here I can get my xiao loong bao fix along with the dim sum fix. That's a good thing! You know what else is a good thing? Discounts for orders before 11am. Highlight? The food. Lowlight? Smells like natural gas (it's a hot pot place at night).

Saturday, July 21 - Dinner - West Lake (literal translation from Chinese)
Victoria and 34th, Vancouver, BC
Pretty new place it seemed. They had decent food. My dad wasn't particularly impressed (probably because we didn't order enough seafood), but I was happy. The salt and pepper shrimp was decent, but not the best I've had. You could eat the shell most of the time, but not all of the time. The rest of their stuff was decent, especially the veggies, fish and chicken. The pork n' mayo thing wasn't incredibly popular with our group. Highlight? Um... no lowlights. Lowlight? No highlights.

Sunday, July 22 - Lunch - Neptune yada yada
No. 3 and Ackroyd, Richmond, BC
This place is great. Some of the best har gow I've had outside of HK. Getting a table is a pain though. You basically need reservations, even if you get in at 10am. Why? The stuff is dirt cheap before 11am. The good thing is that the place opens up at 8am. I'm not sure if you need reservations then, but it certainly is good news to have a place that opens early. It opens up the door to having dim sum for breakfast. Followed by? Maybe dim sum for lunch. This place also has loong har gow (the lobster version of har gow). $2 per dumpling, but they're pretty good. Should be tried at least once. Highlight? The har gow. Lowlight? The xiao loong bao here sucks.

So what now? In a bit I'm off to try a wonton noodle place in the International District. I hope to finally have a good experience there. So far it's been sucking... a lot.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Seattle Center

Seattle Center

Seattle, Washington

Posted by ShoZu

Friday, July 06, 2007

weekend plans

Since Patrick decided to go hiking last weekend, I'm going to do some this weekend. I will be returning to the Crystal Lakes Trail - this time with real equipment. OK. I had real equipment last time, but that was too late in the year. This time there should still be some snow up there. (-;

Sunday, I plan on doing stuff to the car with Ross. Replace the distributor cap, fresh spark plug wires, new oxygen sensor, and a new distributor rotor. It's sure to be good times. Followed by Film Noir.

On a completely unrelated note, there has been a ton of traffic in Elliot Bay this afternoon. I've seen three huge freighters, two random barges filled with freight, a cruise ship, and of course the regular ferries to Bainbridge Island and Bremerton. Each one of these big boats can haul over 500 containers. Not bad.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

independence day

The day started with a gathering of us Microsoft MBAs up on the patio of the Harbor Steps. Low key, free food, and free drinks. Not a bad combination. (-; The plan for most was to go to a park somewhere by the bay to get a view of the fireworks. There are two sets of fireworks here in Seattle. One if on Elliot Bay. The other is on Lake Union. It's funny because one of the things by buddy Ross mentioned to me when I was here in February was how people camp out all day at Gas Works Park to catch the fireworks on Lake Union. Thankfully for me, I had an invitation to hang out with my "coach" on a rooftop right by Lake Union.

There was a good mix of people over at the Lake Union rooftop. It was a mix of Microsoft, T-Mobile, and a few "unaffiliated" people. It's always good to see a variety of people. To give you an idea who was there, there was a person who was a director level at Microsoft, someone who had "retired" for the last two years (at a young age), and also my old flatmate Barnaby's old flatmate who apparently now works at Microsoft. Oh... and to give you a sense of the mood, we were playing drinking Jenga. A good game. If you haven't tried it, you should.

Aside from a fantastic view of Lake Union and the fireworks, we had some interesting conversations about all sorts of things. Heck, with 5 hours of waiting for the fireworks to start (since it doesn't get dark till 9:30pm), there was plenty of time to eat, drink, and talk about all sorts of things. Overall, I continue to be pleased about the people at Microsoft. They know what they're talking about, and sarcasm and smart-assedness are completely OK. Plus they're honest about what's going on. We don't live in a dreamworld where we think that Microsoft is better than everyone else. We all think the iPhone is great, we all have iPods, and we make fun of the Zune. We also acknowledge when things aren't so hot (like Vista's performance) while also thinking of ways we can do things better, as well as seeing why some things must first fail before they succeed (like Windows Mobile... which after writing a Comp Strat paper, I don't see how Palm could ever have fostered any growth or innovation... their stuff sucked). We also had some good conversations about work life balance at the company. Let me summarize: It's good.

Here is a short video of the fireworks from yesterday. Enjoy.

quick update

Don't worry. I'll be putting up a full post later today. But for now: random thoughts.

I like how Keyshawn Johnson shows up on ESPN wearing jeans, Vans (or are they Keds?), and a t-shirt. I'm not sure if the sport coat he's wearing is his or provided to him on the set by ESPN.

Serena Williams is a man. Either that, or she's not really Venus' sister.

Whoever came up with the concept of "Sprays in the City" should be ashamed of him/herself. And if it's successful, we should be ashamed of ourselves. Either way, Mark McGrath should certainly be ashamed.

Home runs are over-rated. I'd rather see a double play or a tough play on the infield. On a related note, Barry Bonds should blow out his knee during batting practise over the All-Star break.

I'm feeling good, John!


Friday, June 29, 2007

a day without google? how about a morning without facebook?

I can't login this morning because my account "temporarily unavailable due to site maintenance." Grrr... So how else am I supposed to keep in touch with large groups of people? E-mail??? You've got to be kidding me. So much for the lazy status update. I now have to do a blog entry... a lame one at that. I can see Scott and Patrick throwing their arms up in the air about how they are even bothering to read this crappy post. I'm sorry. Blame Mr. Zuckerburg.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

plans for the week

Tonight - sailing, then call up Maia after 9pm PST to wish her a happy birthday
Friday - After work MBA party downtown
Saturday - Shop at Pike's Place, International Beer festival, Space Needle, Outdoor movie, and then maybe go out *somewhere*
Sunday - Dim Sum at the Noble Court in Bellevue, apparently the Richmond of Seattle (which I don't believe), perhaps catch up on some work?
Monday - Lunch with Bahna (yes! Bahna!), write out my midpoint review, perhaps catch up on some work?
Tuesday - Meetings... lots of them. We'll see how many get cancelled.
Wednesday - July 4th party in Fremont perhaps?
Thursday - Work on the car

Sunday, June 24, 2007

update - in pictures

Sailing on Elliot Bay on Thursday
Sailing on Elliot Bay on Thursday

Ape Cave (Mount Saint Helens National Monument)

Dim Sum at Wong King in Portland with some Nike interns (and an Intel and Microsoft)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

another mishmash of updates

You all are wondering how the visit to Bill Gates' house went. It was a good time, and I have nothing to show for it. How come? To respect his privacy and safety, none of use were allowed to bring in any electronic devices. That means no cameras, no cell phones, no camcorders, etc. Wallets, watches and ID badges are OK. But let me tell you - he has a nice place. It reminds me a bit of home, but a lot bigger and on a beautiful lake.

So did I meet him? Let me tell you how the evening unfolded. I mingled for a while before I went to the buffet to help myself to some dinner. After getting my food, I needed to find a place to sit. Unfortunately, all the tables were already full (because there were probably over 200 of us). I looked around and eventually found some steps where some people were sitting. The steps too were full, but there was some room on the other side of the velvet rope. I went and sat back there, rationalizing that that would be fine since although it was going against the rule of staying in front of the rope, it did go with the intent of the rope which was to keep me out of the house. Me and a few other interns were actually discussing this when I noticed someone coming down the steps. As I looked over, the person just snaked his way through the crowd on the steps, not saying anything. This person was Bill Gates.

From my perch, I got to see the crowd's reaction. The interns immediately took notice and flocked towards Bill. The odd thing is that as they got to within 10 feet of him, they stopped, forming a bubble around him. For a few moments it was pretty awkward. A crowd had gathered, but no one was talking to him. They were just staring at him. Finally, a few brave souls decided to break the silence. I thought about getting up and joining in, but I reasoned that it would be better for me to stay put since I had a full plate of food plus a glass of wine. I eventually found my way into the crowd and get close enough to hear what he was saying, but no, we didn't actually "meet."

Moving on, this has been a productive week. After the day-long meeting, I actually got a lot of stuff done this week. Because I worked on Sunday (crappy weather that day), I'm considering taking tomorrow off to go hike near Mt. Rainier. Then I'll head over to Portland to hang out with Lifshitz and give her a hard time about anything and everything that she does or doesn't do. Why? Because that's what we do. (-;

Oh. And tonight I'm going sailing with some people from Microsoft. It'll be a great time. It was fun last time even though it was cold and rainy. This afternoon is warm and sunny. Should be great. Catch y'all later.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

a big day tomorrow?

Agenda for tomorrow:

Full day "offsite" meeting. I've got 30 minutes to talk about what Yahoo and Google are doing in my area of focus. This will be the first time I'll be going up to prove that I can actually do real work. We'll see what happens. (-;

Afterwards, party at Bill Gates' house. No joke. We're heading over to this place for a party with him and a bunch of other executives. My guess is that I won't be getting much face time if any at all. There'll be several hundred people there so it isn't exactly what I would call an intimate event. And no, I won't have any photos. We are not allowed to bring in electronic devices of any kind. No cameras, no phones, none of that. Just my ID card, wallet, and keys. Fun? Maybe. But at the very least it should be an experience.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

car update!

I got off work today at 3 so that I could do some work on my car and also help Ross with his (and so he could help me with mine).

Radiator which was leaking all over no longer leaks... well, no longer leaks as much. I still need to replace my upper radiator hose, or at least reclamp the thing. I'm also having similar issues with the ATF leaking. That's a bit of a bigger issue and a bit more annoying too. But hey. Probably $400 in labor saved today. Or about $600 before tax.

Also, at some point I need to document the whole fiasco of getting new phones from AT&T. I'm already their customer. Somehow I'm pretty sure that it would have been MUCH easier to switch to a new company instead of sticking with the one that's served me for the last three and a half years. Thanks, guys. I'm now armed with a legitimate reason to hate you. Can't we just turn back the clock to the good ol' days when I didn't need to deal with you on a regular basis?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

thoughts on microsoft

So far it's been great, and I'm not saying that just because I think people working here might also be reading this blog. (-;

Good people, relatively free reign over my project, and lots of freedom over how I want to work, dress, live, etc. I love it.

That being said, there's a lot of work, but it's fun work. I've been spending a lot of time going crazy with Web browsing getting myself up to speed on what the competition is doing in all the related spaces, and that's a lot of stuff. Thankfully, I'm already addicted to facebook, flickr, and various mapping things, but there's just a ton of stuff out there that I haven't toyed with yet. For example, mobile services. I just got a new phone today with an unlimited data plan, so that's something that I can take a peek at. So as I said, it's work, but it's fun.

Also, some other random notes for a bit of flavor. The cafeteria here is great. Choice of sushi, Indian, Italian, Mexican, burgers, sandwiches, salads, stir fry, etc. I've noticed that I'm mostly gravitating towards two places. The Indian for sure, and then the place upstairs. I think tomorrow I'll change it up and get a sandwich of some sort. Those tater tots have been teasing me...

The other thing is that the facilities here are beautiful, but also goofy. The campus here is really nice. Great landscaping, nice rhododendrons and even a waterfall by the outside eating area. On the other hand, the hallways here are death traps. They're not very wide, there are tons of blind corners, and there's carpeting so you can't hear if anyone is coming. End result is a lot of people almost running into each other. Typically a little annoying, but potentially catastrophic. I'm fearful every morning as I exit the kitchen area with my (complimentary) cup of hot tea of coffee. The other thing is that the toilets don't flush very well. I'll let you use your imagination about how I've determined that.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

i like food

So a typical Sunday for me here in Seattle.

9am - Wake up (thanks, Alissa!)
11am - Play basketball with the interns
2pm - Go to the market and buy some mix of fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy, and bread. Then go home and eat half of it and save the remainder for the rest of the week.

So I love the market. Aside from the throngs of tourists who want to take photos of everything, it rocks. Huge head of good quality romaine lettuce for 99 cents. Fresh french bread for under $3 a loaf. Huge quality apples for 99 cents/pound. And always an awesome selection of fancy fruit like cherries, strawberries, and even lychee. The meat there is pretty good too. Got a special of Angus NY Strip steak for $8.99 a pound. Plus I got some sausage there. The first time I've ever had sausage that isn't bursting with oil and fat. Good stuff. And of course, the fish there is excellent, although a bit on the pricey side.

Now that I'm finishing up with my late lunch, I'm going to see if I can do some random shopping downtown at a drugstore, and maybe Old Navy. Hopefully they'll have some good long sleeve tees.

After that, game 2 of the NBA finals. Go Cavs!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

live from seattle

The long awaited rambling update... I promise that it will be disjoint and random. If the paragraph bores you, skip it and move on to the next one.

So right now I'm at work. I arrived in Seattle on Sunday, May 27 and I spent a few days hanging out in Seattle before starting work on Wednesday.

Working in my office is kind of like working in the Hall of Mirrors at SOM. I share the office with someone, which is fine with me, considering that at Progressive I didn't have much personal space to myself, though I do admit that I enjoyed hanging out with Steve and Colleen for many hours each day. The reason my office reminds me of the Hall of Mirrors is that usually it's relatively quiet, but there is a fair amount of traffic. Then about once or twice a day there's a loud gathering somewhere near here that's loud as hell. But it's OK. I'm used to working in the Hall of Mirrors. Only issue is that I am still in the habit of leaving my iPod in the car. I need to change my ways... especially with the amount of research that I'm doing.

So what am I doing? I'm trying to come up with a vision for a product. Right now it's a lot of competitive analysis - going and looking at different competitors' offerings and capabilities. I'll also be looking into trends both from a user standpoint as well as from a technology standpoint. It's very much like the sort of thing I did when I was doing research for my Comp Strat paper, so I feel like I'm pretty prepared for it. The only "issue" is that there is so much material internally to review that it's a bit overwhelming. I think I'm getting a pretty good handle on it though. I'm going to spend the next day digesting what's here, creating my own stuff, and then I'll reach out to a few more people to get some more brain dumps from people involved in two other affiliated projects. Good times.

So my apartment. Yes, I promised I would jump around a bit. My apartment is sweet. I'm sharing a 2BR with another intern in downtown Seattle. Heavily subsidized by Microsoft. We get a fantastic view of Elliot Bay and downtown Seattle. On a clear day I can see Mt. Rainier from my bedroom. Awesome. I'll put up some photos shortly so you can see for yourself. Better yet, drop by for a visit. We have a couch and plenty of floorspace. The other great thing about the apartment is that it's close to a bunch of stuff. I'm within a 5 minute walk of the Pike Place Market, which is a great place to pick up groceries (and flowers). I can get everything from produce, meats, milk, cheese, fresh bread, to asian and latino groceries. There are also a ton of little eateries around the market, from oysters to russian to chinese to greek to turkish. Good stuff!

The only two drawbacks to where I live: it's far from good greenspace and the commute kind of sucks. It takes 8 minutes to get to the highway in the morning. It can take over an hour to get home in the evening if there is a Mariners home game. I'll need to figure something out. Maybe I'll take the bus those days.

Oh yes. We get free bus passes for working here. I like.

You know another thing I like? The cafeteria here. Today I had Indian food and sushi. Granted, it's not the best quality I've ever had, but it's passable. Plus it offers variety. The only problem is that it seems like I want the Indian food every day. I have this bad feeling that I'm going to overdo it like we did Aladdin at SOM. Wish me luck. I intentionally got something else yesterday just for a break. The good thing is that they mix up what dishes they have each day. So is it really repeating?

So social stuff. It's been cool hanging out with the mix of people that I know here. High school people, b-school people, and Microsoft people. Give me a few weeks and I'll mix in some other peeps that I know here (from CMU and other).

My car. Ross and I have formed an alliance. An alliance to work on our cars. We both own 4th generation Honda Accords. He has the local knowledge. I have the tools and experience doing random stuff with my car. It will be fun. We will save enormous amounts of money. I'll probably save $300+ doing the radiator by myself. $100+ for the oxygen sensor. Driveshaft I may wait till I'm back in Cleveland. Ross will likely save a ton on his car as well. I like.

So what did I miss.... Photos! I just got internet access yesterday at home. I'll try to start uploading some stuff in the next few days. Not just so that you all can see pics from the cross country trip, but also so I can take more photos. I think I almost managed to completely fill 12GB worth of memory cards.

Oh yeah... I got invited to a party at Bill Gates' place. I hear he has a nice house.

So so far:
7 sunny days
2 rainy days
Had Japanese, Russian, Mediterranean, Mexican food.

Friday, May 25, 2007

we have reached the west coast!

Late last night, we reached San Francisco, finishing the "coast-to-coast" part of the journey. But, the trip isn't over yet. Tomorrow morning we go for yet another hike (on top of the 40 miles of hiking already done in Zion, Grand Canyon, and Yosemite National Parks) in Redwoods National Park. Then, a drive up the Oregon coast, and then finally arriving in Seattle.

Oh... and the stat of the day: 29.5 miles per gallon so far with the car.

Now, time for some sleep... or something.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

zion rocks

Zion has definitely made it onto my list of favorite national parks, joining Jasper (Canada), Mt. Rainier, and Olympic.

Since the last time, we have hit up Houston for an Astros game with Scott and Jenn, BBQ in Austin with Ly Ann, and Zion, Bryce Canyon, and Grand Canyon National Parks. Good times. Probably about 30 miles of hiking over the last three days, with a combined 7000 feet in vertical climb.

Unfortunately, I left the cable for my "good" camera packed deep in my car, so no photos yet. )-: Don't worry though. I think I've taken well over 400 so far, and I'm not even sure how.

The car is still holding up, although I think I need a new radiator, new oxygen sensor, new front-right driveshaft, and maybe something in my rear-left suspension. Radiator is under control (leaks at the top periodically when in heat), O2 sensor flakes out periodically (which then screws with the ECM which I then need to reset), driveshaft has been holding up great despite the escaped grease, and the rear-left suspension just makes noise. In other words, things are under control, but I'd love to take a day and retool my car at some point. It's all stuff I can do myself assuming that I have a garage. Damn.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

and i would drive 1,000 miles...

Hello from New Orleans. Yep. Safely made our way down here from Cleveland yesterday after 15 hours on the road. Left at 7am, arrived at around 10pm in the evening, thanks to the gift of time, courtesy of time zones.

It's been a great trip so far. Explored DC, where we got to play with guns, rocket launchers, and pose by tanks and Apache helicopters. Explored Pittsburgh, and then took a great 55 minute run through Shaker Heights and Cleveland Heights in Cleveland.

Last night we arrived in New Orleans, after a 1,000+ plus drive from Cleveland. On the way, we didn't do that much, although we did stop by an authentic Skyline Chili experience in Kentucky, right across the river from downtown Cincinnati. Good times. Driving game winner from yesterday, FedEx, with 31 trucks, with an impressive race between UPS, Wal-Mart, and Swift Transport for second. UPS had an early lead, building starting with trucks in OH and continuing through the end. Wal-Mart got a slow start, but caught up with UPS in Alabama. Swift, a late entrant, didn't enter the race until Alabama, but quickly caught up to make it a three-way race on I-59 after we passed Birmingham.

Friday, May 04, 2007


Last night the Student Government went bowling with the Dean. It was a good time, and I actually managed to bowl relatively well. Bowled a 122 (I think) and a 99. I then bowled a 111 lefty after starting with I think a total of 4 through the first two frames. New lefty personal best!

Photos? Miriam has the photos. I need to get them from her. (-:

And yes, I have bowled lefty before. I think it started when my shoulder was screwed up from playing ultimate. Now it seems like I may bowl better lefty than I do righty. Definitely more consistent. Even the Dean noticed how inconsistent my right arm was. Hrm...

Monday, April 30, 2007

when recommended isn't recommended

So I took my car to the dealership... second time since I got the car in 2001. I figured that I would ask them to do a few of the recommended maintenance things that I never bother to do. Basically adjust the valve clearance, replace the ABS high pressure hose, replace the ABS fluid, and inspect the SRS. Of these things the only thing that is still recommended is the valve clearance. No maintenance required for the ABS or SRS unless there's a problem. Great!

Why the discrepancy? The only thing I can think of is that my car was built before they knew how long things like the ABS or SRS would work before breaking. Now they advise to stay away from those things. Leave it alone unless there is something wrong. I guess it's good enough that I already fixed my ABS thice (replaced three sensors).

So why bother bringing it in? The valves haven't been adjusted in AT LEAST 70,000 miles (although they seem fine), they're fixing my A/C (which I don't have the time or the facilities to deal with), adjusting the rear caliper (because I'm lazy), and they can check out why my car has no power on a warm start on a hot day. But I didn't ask them to fix it. Just tell me the issue and I'll deal with that myself if needed, or do nothing. Not worth paying labour to fix that.

My car should have 170,000 miles on it by the end of the summer. Nice.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

i love maps

The companion map to the road trip.

more info about where i'll be living

I will be living here:


It feels like it's been forever, but I guess it's only been a week since my last post. An update on things.

School is almost done for the year. It's flown by incredibly quickly, and I'm happy about how I've been able to establish many very close friends here at SOM. While there is the occassional overly dramatic (probably staged) fits of jealously between the two groups, it's good. As I've been saying a lot recently, "I like food." Let's just say that my "work" groups at school have become somewhat food oriented, which is totally cool with me. Only issue is that so far I've only made contributions to one group while offering very little in return to the other. Seriously, things would be different if it wasn't for the vegetarianism. Chinese food isn't exactly vegetarian friendly. I'll think of something...

Despite how awesome school is (weird), I'm really looking forward to the summer. I've got my dream job out in Seattle working for Microsoft, and I'll also be taking advantage of the wonderful excuse to drive across the country... TWICE.

Trip 1: New Haven, CT to Seattle, WA
We'll cover 21 states and DC in this trip - Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, California, Oregon, and Washington. States I haven't been to before are marked in bold.

Also amazing is that I'll be able to visit a few friends on the way. TC and Darin in DC, some of my Cleveland peeps in Cleveland, Scott in Houston, Ly Ann in Austin, Steven in Arizona. Unfortunately I'll be missing Peter in San Fran. And of course Patrick. He'll be along for the entire ride.

So what will we see? A quick rundown of sights, big and small. The George Washington Bridge, The Garden State Parkway (I hate NJ), Washington DC, Old Town Alexandria, PA Turnpike, Breezewood,
Pittsburgh, CMU, Boulevard of the Allies, the mile-long GM plant at Lordstown, the crazy OH highway patrol, Chinese food in Cleveland, the steel mills in the Cuyahoga Valley (which we talked about in Employee class - Mittal Steel), Skyline Chili in Cincinnati maybe?, the red highways of Alabama (if they're still red), New Orleans, French Quarter, Garden District, Houston, Astros game, Austin, West Texas, most of Arizona and New Mexico, Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park, maybe Canyon de Chelley, maybe Monument Valley, the Extraterrestrial Highway (at night!), Yosemite, San Francisco, Pacific Coast Highway, Mt. St. Helens, Seattle, In-N-Out burgers at some point, Jack in the Box at some point, Broadway perhaps, Pike Place Market, the original Starbucks, West Seattle. Good times!

Trip 2: Seattle, WA to Boston, MA to New Haven, CT
Why Boston? So that I can drive the entire length of I-90 in one trip. Why? Because I can. I'll start at the western tip by the Alaskan Way, and end by Logan Airport in Boston. I'll probably stop at Billings, MT; Rochester, MN; Cleveland, OH and Boston, MA. I'll be back just in time for Orientation where I'll be an SYA. I'll be visiting states in this trip - Washington, Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, maybe Rhode Island, and Connecticut. 31 states for the round trip. At the end of this trip, the only states I would be missing are North Dakota, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Arkansas.

We have been through a lot together.

Oh yeah... almost forgot about Welcome Weekend. It was awesome. Beautiful weather, tons of activities. Nothing like going from the club fair to playing sports to studying while having Cava to helping announce a hockey game. Yes. Announce a hockey game. Seriously, the opportunities here at Yale are limitless.

Friday, April 20, 2007

summer travel

Rough map

I need to get my a/c fixed.