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June 2007


June 28, 2007   

[14:36] eingybear: i think i finally have a tagline for my website.
[14:36] eingybear: “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” — Voltaire
[14:37] eingybear: i think this theme has really shown itself in my life in various different ways in the recent years.
[14:38] helava: Ha! That quote is PERFECT!
[14:38] helava: <- unwittingly ironic
[14:38] eingybear: ROFL!
[14:39] helava: Man, I wish I had been intentionally ironic. That would have been better.
[14:39] helava: hehehe
[14:39] eingybear: 😀
[14:39] eingybear: I’m totally going to blog this conversation.

Being communiflexible

June 28, 2007   

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how I present myself, both in my personal life and in my professional life.

It is more important to me that I convey the correct impression of me to others than always being myself. Did that sound contradictory? Probably. But they are very different things to me.

Here is an example. If I had things 100% my way and I cared more about being me as I perceive myself than how I communicate with others, I’d probably never use a smiley face in my writing; I’d never hug people upon greeting them and saying goodbye; I’d go months or possibly years without calling up friends that I love.

Hmm. I didn’t mean to make myself and my impulses sound so antisocial.

What do I mean? “I’d probably never use a smiley face in my writing.” I only began to use smilies because I realized that it wasn’t clear to many other people when I was making a joke. However, my natural inclination is to be dry, and dryness and inclusion of smilies in writing are really natural enemies. But living life and interacting with people, it was more important to me not to deliver the line, but to connect with people and make sure they are getting my intention which is to be in on the joke together. Not making it clear to someone that you are joking simply acts, albeit unintentionally, to exclude the person you are joking with, instead of creating rapport in a shared view.

When I’m composing an email to a colleague, I make sure to use their “language”. If this is a person who is very direct and succinct in their communication, I keep my email the same way because I’m sure they don’t want to have their time wasted. If they are someone who prefaces their email with thanks and sorries, I make sure to do the same if I’m asking them to do something for me, because it says to me that those interactions matter to them. If a person’s email has exclamations and smilies, even if it’s for work, I’ll try to echo them to some degree so they understand that I am not depressed or angry about what I am communicating to them.

People may be reading other people’s words but often apply their own voice on the words they are reading. If they think the words/tone echo how they’d speak if they were pissed off or trying to be insulting, then even if there is not a single word in your writing that sounds like that, they will most likely walk away from the experience with a negative impression of the communication. If they think the words/tone felt flakey and too bubbly, they will walk away from the experience thinking that the person who wrote them can’t be taken seriously, even if all the writer wanted to do was soften up their communication.

So in order to communicate to my coworkers that I’m a responsible, unstressed, communicative, hardworking, serious-yet-casual person, I might write five different emails in a day that sound very different in tone. But hopefully, they all have a very similar picture in mind of who I am.

“I’d never hug people upon greeting them and saying goodbye.” And it’s true. I only ever feel like hugging Seppo, my mom, my nieces, and my little brother. Ok, I wanted to hug my extended family members when I met them. I guess I mean that most of the time, I wouldn’t want to. There are a few heart-felt exceptions, like a real hello or a real goodbye of someone I care about. To me, it’s something I only want to do (when it’s not Seppo) when I’m overwhelmed with emotion.

But you know what? I hug people all the time now. Why? Because I know what it means to the people I care about in my life. It’s not aloofness or lack of affection that keeps me from wanting to hug people, it’s just that I’d rather just wave hi or bye, and save the hugs for when it’s really significant. But to many others, not hugging is off-putting, and makes them feel like I perceive a gulf between us that I don’t in fact perceive. My hugging them gives them the proper impression of how I feel about them, even though I wouldn’t choose to express myself that way, if I didn’t think it’d hurt feelings. Because it’s important to me not to hurt my friends’ feelings and also to let them know I do value them and feel a great amount of affection and love for them, I hug them. Because then, they hear the love in a language they understand, even if I speak it awkwardly and would prefer to speak my own language. But if I spoke my own physical language all the time, most of my friends would not understand me.

I suppose the other dimension of this non-hugging thing is that people think of you in a certain way when you say that you are not a hugger. The assumption is made that you are cold, that you have issues with physical affection, that you must not be loving. These are all things that I think are completely untrue of me, so I feel like I need to portray myself externally to society as I see myself internally.

I think the whole “calling thing” is pretty much the same as the hugging thing.

Being communiflexible (totally a made up word) seems fairly obvious to me. It’s the concept of being able to tell your friends certain things in a certain tone, but not just general acquaintances. It’s the same concept, but extended a little further.

I feel like I should have something at the end of this post that really ties things together and crystalizes my thoughts perfectly.

But I don’t. 😀 Oh noes! Smiley!

Designed to make you jealous

June 22, 2007   

Today is a beautiful, stunning, warm summer day in Oakland. There is a gentle breeze, the sky is blue, and all I can hear is the rustling of the wind.

Because I’m working from home.

… From my backyard.

… In a hammock.

… Under a canopy that blocks out just the right amount of light.

… Eating toasted dried squid.

Oh wait, I think that’s probably one more thing than most of you want. Oh well.

Welcome back, Charles!

June 18, 2007   

Welcome back to Charles of “Team Uyen, Powered by Charles” fame. We’ve missed you!

Update: AIDS Walk and Camping

June 18, 2007   

I’ve had to change the camping date to Friday, July 13th to Sunday, July 15th, so if you want to join us, please be aware of this change in date.

This change in date also means that I will not be able to participate in the AIDS Walk in SF, so sorry to any potential partners for the walk.

AIDS Walk San Francisco & Camping

June 15, 2007   

AIDS Walk in San Francisco is happening on Sunday, July 15, in Golden Gate Park. I am thinking about doing this while my brother is here, either the 10K walk or volunteering at one of the refreshment stands. The thing is, I’m more likely to want to walk if I knew other people would join me. 😀

So, here’s the question: would anyone be interested in doing the walk with me & the little bro, and failing that, volunteering at a station with me? Team registration has to happen by July 3rd, I think, so let me know if you are interested.

Oh yeah! I forgot to mention the very significant fact that the little bro is gonna be visiting from June 30th to July 21st. I’m pretty excited!

I scheduled a weekend of camping at Anthony Chabot Park Friday, July 6th to Sunday, July 8th. We have a spot that can hold up to 8 people — note that Seppo, the bro, and I only make three people. Mobi doesn’t count as a person, although he’ll be there too. So … Would anyone like to join us? Let me know, as the spot is already paid for. 😀

An Exaltation of Larks

June 14, 2007   

This morning, as I was listening to KPBS’s pocast of their program, A Way With Words, I heard quite a beautiful phrase: an exaltation of larks. An exaltation, then, is a group of larks (a type of bird). There is even a book by that title, penned by the very same James Lipton of Inside the Actors Studio, basically covering the variety of grouping terms that exist in the English language, tracing through the history and making sense of it all.

I just love that imagery. I picture birds bursting through the air, filling the skies with music.

In some ways, my life is an exaltation of larks — of the other type. My fellow generalists will get my meaning. 🙂

Firing on all pistons

June 11, 2007   

I’ve observed in the past that a little momentum can carry me a long way. When I’m energized in one arena of my life, all other part also get a boost. It is nice. It feels like life is humming along pretty well right now.

Last week Thursday, I caught dinner w/ Max at Bong Su [review | map] in SoMa. We took our time to get caught up and had a fantastic dinner.

Friday night, we moved into Joe’s old room. Saturday was full of moving more stuff, IKEA, hanging curtains (Seppo), and assembling a side table (me).

Sunday, Uyen took me out to lunch and to see The Jersey Boys: The Story of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons at the Curran Theater as an early birthday present! Can you believe it? Ok, so it’s about 60s pop music? What, it’s a musical? And it’s about a bunch of Jersey boys who make it big? Hee hee, the only thing that would be better is if this musical were actually about Bon Jovi instead. Thanks, Uyen! 😀 It was an awesome, fun time, full of great music. We got a chance leisurely chat during lunch and the drive to and back. It was really, really, fun. Woo hoo! And Charles gets back on Sunday! YAY!

Tonight, I went to dinner with Holly. Man, being with Mac and being engaged to him makes Holly always look like she’s lit like a candle from within with happiness. Yeah, you might think that’s an exaggeration, but it’s not. She’s so happy and it shows, and I am so, so happy for her. It was nice to catch up after so long. For a while, we had a standing monthly-ish dinner, but it had been a while. We are going to try to continue them once more. We went to a Filipino restaurant in San Bruno called Kuya. I’ll have to review this place, the crepe place Uyen and I went to, and Bong Su, at some point.

I got back home and found that Seppo had cleaned up the entire living area. Man, he is so awesome. So to try to make a contribution, I pulled out the sewing machine and hemmed the brown curtains for the downstairs. Since I had measured and pinned them last night, sewing them was a breeze. In a fit of productivity, I decided to mend my shiny reddish skirt (which I had to let out) and my pale grey dress (which I had broken the shoulder straps on). Done and done! I mean, they don’t look pretty, but at least they’re fixed.

I need to buy fabric for the dress I am going to try to make. It’ll be my first big project. I should pick up some nice heavy silk for a tie for Seppo too.

My seedlings are doing well, but I am going to wait another week before I put them in the ground. I need to get corner thingies and 2x6s to make the raised bed.

Busy busy. Woo.

Spring Fever?

June 4, 2007   

Seppo and I have been acting like crazy people. We’ve been reorganizing the downstairs and moving stuff around. It’s unbelievable how much larger the downstairs looks now. I keep wanting to randomly invite people over just so they can admire it, but we have some more tidying up to do.

Two Saturdays ago, I spent something like 9 contiguous hours with the IKEA kitchen designer, trying this and that and a dozen different layouts. I think we have a couple of options that we think are really functional and nice. It was reassuring to think that we have an estimate of the cost of kitchen renovation that is far, far, far below the supposed average of $300-400/sq. ft. that is common in the Bay Area.

We spent much of yesterday and the day before doing the backed up laundry and organizing random records and dog toys strewn about the house, into our new fire-safe, water-safe locked file and storage ottoman, respectively.

I’ve swept the downstairs about 20 times since we reorganized the area, feeding off some heretofore unknown OCD-like cleaning impulse, which, if you know me, you know was heretofore unknown. Probably also will be “henceforth unknown”. 😀

Aside from that, we haven’t been doing very much. We’ve seen a couple of friends here and there, mostly at their houses or our house, laying low while we get through this crazy frenzy.

We are pretty much acting like we did back in 2001 and 2002 when we first moved into the house: moving things around, organizing, imagining neat things we could do with the space. I hope this year brings some noticeable changes. 🙂