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google desktop

August 22, 2005   

google_desktop

Could this be more awesome? I can track my blog feeds with Google Desktop now. I just used it once and I already love the interface. I ::heart:: Google’s products. See “all sizes” from the flickr page to see details.

Read and download here.

difficult, difficult, difficult, then suddenly very easy

August 22, 2005   

I just closed out one of my credit cards. It is the first one I got after college. It had a high interest rate and didn’t really offer much of anything except it racked up AmericaWest frequent flyer miles. I braced myself for an annoying but polite discussion with the customer representative and dialled their services number. After entering my account number and the last four digits of my social security number, I waited to hear the menu options and selected to speak to a representative. Then the service went to the busy tone and disconnected! Arg.

So I called again and repeated the process. This time, it went to a pleasant little waiting music which lulled me into a false sense of security, then suddenly, busy tone and disconnection! Oh noes!

I looked up a different service number and called, but it must have channelled the call to the same place, because it was the same process over again.

I tried one more time, because I’m stubborn like that, and bam! I got a friendly voice. She immediately connected me with an account manager who was exceedingly polite and asked me a couple of simple questions to verify my identity and that was it. No questions as to why I am closing out the account, no tempting offers to try to keep me, nothing. Sweet! Thanks customer representatives*!

*Who are they representing me to? The corporation? Are they watching out for me? Is that what they are paid for? Yeah right. I’ve also heard some places call people “customer advocates”. Weird. Anyway, these people were fantastic and I don’t hold them responsible for what was obviously a phone system error, as frustrating as it was. Good on you, Bank of America, for having a decent process for closing a card without hassle.

insider knowledge*

August 22, 2005   

Oooh, yeah. Insider knowledge*, baby.

Previously, on incite a riot, I brought you In-N-Out’s “secret” menu. Today, I bring you two more little tidbits, which I’m sure the entirety of the world’s population was aware of long before I became aware of them. I ordered a short cappuccino at StarBucks today. Yes, a short. It’s the only reasonable size they have, and it’s not on the menu, but they will serve it to you. And life has not been the same since I learned you can ask for bagels “toasted dark” at Noah’s “Bagels” *cough*. Of course, the last two times resulted in burnt bagels because the local shop’s toaster is busted, but generally, they just pass it through twice and the bagel halves come out awesome.

You know you can get your credit report for free every year, right? AnnualCreditReport brings them to you. If you are worried that it is a bogus site, the FTC says it’s not. The smart thing to do is to get one credit report from one of the three agencies every 4 months, rather than doing them all at the same time, but I didn’t think of that until I saw that tip on LifeHacker. Duh. I check my credit report every two years anyway, but this is better because it’s free and it’s from all three major credit reporting agencies.

*Disclaimer: I am not an insider. It was a misleading phrase designed to lull you into a sense of security and trust in my words. You can trust me. Please email me with your credit card number and expiration date. Don’t forget the security code on the back! kthnxbye!

insensible eating

August 20, 2005   

I had started eating sensibly, in reasonable portions, paying attention to the variety and quantity of food that I have been ingesting in the past couple of weeks. I have started to use the rowing machine little by little, trying to build up in small increments so I can’t tell myself I have no time to exercise.

Today was our company picnic at Paramount’s Great America. The company paid for parking, admission, and a “picnic” of indescribeably horrible food and ok drinks, so we only needed cash for snacks and games, so it was a great deal. In 4.5 hours, we rode 4 rides; ingested hot dogs, sodas, ice cream sandwiches, cotton candy, lemonade, and funnel cake topped with whipped cream; and walked until we were sore.

Man, I am such a huge baby. The rides we went on were mostly the non-super-popular-thus-non-super-dangerous-or-scary rides, but I was so scared and dizzy that I thought I was gonna puke. I used to go on ride after ride for full 10 hour days in high school, but clearly those days are behind me. We went on Invertigo, where I cried for my mommy and realized my life was about to come to a screaming end, then on Orbit, where both Seppo and I accused each other of rocking the seat then got nauseous enough to almost hurl, followed by Centrifuge, which caused me more pain that I expect to ever experience before childbirth by being crushed between Seppo and the outside wall of the seat (curse you, ride operator dude, for not warning me that the person on the outside will be crushed, like you warned that man with his tiny little daughter that were seated in the wrong configuration — never mind our mechanical engineering degrees), and finally the White Water Falls ride, where I thew all my efforts into protecting my phone, never mind getting a faceful of splash. Hee.

We followed this insanity with a trip to a Korean restaurant known for its banquet space. Seppo and I spoke to the manager, who let us take a peek at the party of 75 that was celebrating a birthday there. It was a pretty nice place. The prices are amazingly reasonable for the sheer quantity of food, but we were not sure about the quality, so we ordered some food to go. Yes, on top of all the food we had already ingested. Because we are masochists.

The verdict on the food is two thumbs up. Delicious food. The meat I had was a touch too sweet on its own (but fine with rice and sides), whereas Seppo’s shrimp was memorably good. Yum.

Then we went to Seppo’s work, where he worked and I ate a little dinner and read. After several hours at his work, we dropped off birthday presents for Uyen and Charles, then the four of us took a very quick trip out to grab some ice cream at a locally owned ice cream shop. I also bought a tiny piece of fudge. It was delicious.

That was the end of the most insensible day of eating in a very long time for me.

not enough time

August 20, 2005   

I don’t have time for this! I can’t watch another tv show. I want to live a real life with real people in it. Stupid Rock Star: INXS. I just saw my first episode tonight (TiVoed from earlier this week, which was apparently week 6) and man! I am blown away. The top four in my opinion are Jordis, Marty, MiG, and Ty. Personally, I think it should come down to Jordis and Marty, but what the hell do I know. INXS was and is still one of my favorite bands, but I have proven over and over again that I am fairly tone-deaf. I think Marty and MiG fit the group’s style the best.

I’m almost ready to buy the dvd of the season if it ever comes out. I’m thinking maybe torrent will be my friend for now. Sheesh.

learning about others

August 19, 2005   

Some people, when they are told about other people’s plights or hurts, say, “What’s that got to do with me?” When you tell them about specific stereotypes/actions/words that hurt you, they say, “So what? Get over it.” Me, when someone tells me that they don’t like this or that or have been hurt by something or that there is a specific injustice that rankles them, I want to know what underlying reasons lead to this situation, why it bothers them, and what can be done. I love to find out about things and to expand my knowledge base of “the human condition”. I want to be sensitive to other people’s plights and to learn better how not to be a jerk and instead be a better contributing member of society.

This philanthropic view is the cover story for my blog-reading addiction. Heh.

Well, I’m only half kidding.

I’ve been reading Waiter Rant for an inside look at that lives of waitstaff. It’s given me a greater appreciation for people who work at restaurants, and I have internalized some tips to make sure I am not a jerky customer. I hate it when people feel like they can be rude to people and put them down because you happen to be paying them (or someone else) for something or another. It’s not like the person signed up to be your indentured servant.

I’ve also been reading Jon’s Jail Journal. The jail he was in before sentencing (he was in the interim jail for over two years) is in Arizona and sounds like a really frightening violation of human decency, especially as some of the people there had not yet been convicted yet and some had yet to be sentenced (after conviction). I vaguely remember reading about the tent jails before, but I have no idea where or when. There are some excerpts at The Guardian.

My dad doesn’t talk to anyone (that I know of) of how things were in jail and prison. I can’t imagine how it was for him, and I don’t know the conditions he was held in. I don’t know what his daily routine was. I don’t know anything about the place, except that told to me from the nursing and medical staff whom I spoke with on several occasions. His correctional officer also seemed like a decent person when I spoke to him, but what did/do I know about what really went on? I was told by a nurse that it was one of the nicer facilities, but the stories in “Jon”‘s journal shake me. My dad had gone through Vietnam as a young man. I don’t know what he went through. He never talked about that either. All the things he’s seen in his life that he doesn’t talk about… what is it doing to him? He’s never been a decent father, and he’s been a pretty crappy husband to my mom most of the years they’ve been married, but he’s still a human being and he’s still a person who’s been through a lot of senseless pain. Some people are just not good in certain roles, and as an adult, I can and have long since accepted that.

It’s stupidly ironic that I feel like I am learning about him only through reading about strangers and their stories.

The U.S. penal and justice system is broken. It needs to be fixed. We can cage people up and treat them like animals and pay out ridiculous amounts of tax dollars that could be going into health care or education, or we can address the real problems and try to find real answers. If I know what those are, I’ll let you know. :p There are people who should be locked up that aren’t. There are people who really genuinely need mental help but do not get it. There are people who don’t need to be doped up that are. The end result is that the system does not produce the results that we want to/are led to believe.

This post was brought to you by my Bleedin’ Liberal Heart ™.

ETA: Due to popular request [read: Because I remembered and felt like it], I bring you more “real life” blogs:

It’s weird that I’m not that interested in meeting people, yet I am still interested in learning more about the human experience and hearing about other people’s daily lives.

future blog topics

August 16, 2005   
  • How much I love and value the teachers I had growing up.
  • How much I hate what a big revelation the phrase, “He’s just not that into you” is supposed to be. Come on now!
  • How much I can’t stand Michelle Malkin and how I am constantly surprised by her continued media presence.
  • How much I love the show “So You Think You Can Dance” (I know I wrote that before).
  • How I hope I’m not going to obsessively blog about our wedding plans like I did about NaNoWriMo during December of last year.
  • How I wonder how to parlay my skillset into doing something “worthwhile” in my “spare” time.
  • How much I am looking forward to September (release of Serenity and A Breath of Snow and Ashes)

Blogger for Word

August 16, 2005   

Now enabling your blogging addiction:

Blogger for Word is a free add-in for Microsoft Word that lets you save a Word document as a post to your Blogger blog with just a few clicks, and without even opening up a browser. Blogger for Word makes it even easier to express yourself online, save your documents to the web, and edit your work both online and off.

Click on the title of this entry to go to blogger to download.

generations

August 16, 2005   

I have no idea why, but my beloved friends and esteemed colleagues seem to believe that there is room for argument on the concept of what it means to be a first, second, or third generation American. Note that people also use the term first, second, or third generation immigrant to describe the same thing.

Ahem. No, there is no room for argument. I don’t say that because I think I’m right, so there! No, I say that because it is the truth. (So there! Hee!) My familiarity of the generation labels does not arise from some introspection and creative wordsmithing. The concepts of the generations are well-documented and accepted among those who study and write about immigration culture, in particular to the US. I have friends who insist I am wrong, but come on! You know you are just going with what you think sounds right, and not from knowledge of the accepted vernacular. I can’t just go around making things up about what I think “queer” or “neo-con” means based on what I feel; I must accept the normative use for these words and so must you!! Accept it! Take it! What’s my name?!!

Sorry.

Here is the breakdown:

  • First generation: This is the first generation in your family to move to and to live in America and/or become naturalized. This generation is born in and spent their formative years in a country that is not the US and often (but not always) self-identify their culture to be the one they were raised in, and not the American culture. They are often the ones to have made the decision to immigrate, and were not children that just went along with their parents. Often, but not always, the first generation does not speak English as a first language. Anyway, they are the first in the family to live in America and to become immersed in American culture, the first to have to try to adapt to the new country.
  • Second generation: This consists of the children of the first generationers. They are the first generation in their family to be born Americans, but their parents may already be naturalized, thus they are not the first generation Americans. This generation often suffers from a language gap with the parents and may not actually be able to communicate easily with each other (other than the normal parent-child thing). They grow up in a mixed culture — inside the home, it is very clear that they are in the culture of the parents’ origins, but outside of the home, they are true-blue Americans. While they are largely familiar with the superficial layers of their parents’ culture, they do not hold first-hand knowledge of the culture.
  • Third generation: This consists of the children of the second generationers (duh). Because they are raised by the second generationers who self-identify largely as plain old American, they often don’t learn any of the language or culture of grandparents, even if both parents are of the same ethnicity. They are Americans raised by Americans, and there is very little to distinguish them from anyone that’s been in the US for hundreds of years.

For the people who can’t take my word for it, here is a list of references:

Hmm, I didn’t know about the kibei:

There are also the Kibei, who are the same age as the Nisei and were born in America, but were schooled in Japan, arriving back in this country to live as adults.

Anyway… I fall into the gap between the first and second generation. I was born in Korea and spoke Korean as a first language and even attended school there for a bit. But I was still a small child when I moved to the US. My older brother was 12 years old and had attended up to the 6th grade in Korea, so he’s even further into this category. We are what are called the 1.5 generation.

It’s weird being 1.5 generation because we immigrated with our parents, yet because of exposure to school and peers, we learned the language faster than them. So we end up as translators for our parents and stand in for them when our younger siblings need help in school. It’s fine at my current age of 29, but for my older brother who had to deal with this most, it was not good at the age of 12. Most of my friends who are 1.5 generation grew up feeling like we were really Korean/Chinese/Cambodian/etc deep down inside, remembering the feeling of acceptance when we were kids and the shock of rejection when we moved to the US. Most of us were picked on by our peers and strangers in the streets for being different. But most of us also got a big awakening when/if we had a chance to visit the country we had considered home. It’s most definitely not home. We might have fond memories of the place, but we are like mutant aliens when we visit. We can barely get by with our American accents.

I struggled with issues of cultural identity as an adolescent, but I know where I am now. So this post isn’t really about that. I had to cut myself short when I realized where I was going. That’s just too boring, really. It’s just to clear it up for you peeps who dare to question my wisdom. Hee. Please don’t kick my ass.

looking cautiously optimistic

August 15, 2005   

We went to see a couple more wedding venues on Saturday: The Faculty Club at Berkeley and Madison’s at Lake Merritt Hotel. The weekend before that, we saw Berkeley City Club.

I really love Madison’s — it’s just beautiful, the view is fantastic, and it’s a local business, so it has some relevance to us and our lives. We made up a spreadsheet this weekend of the various different options we have at the different places. There is no conclusive answer yet. I hope we can decide soon.

ETA: My friend is selling her wedding dress. She bought another one that suits her better, so she’s selling the one she had picked out before. See the ad here and mention me to her if you decide to get the dress. 🙂