Recently in all about people Category

in all about people , in the news |

I woke up this morning to the news of the terrible terrorist attack in Paris. It’s been a dreadful few weeks, with the sudden loss of a friend to cancer, a death in the family and now this. I was about to start looking for flights and hotels too.

As with many news events nowadays, social media played a big part in both dissemination of information and for people to express their feelings. What I observed on my fb, twitter and instagram feeds was quite interesting:

  • fb — fb friends’ demographics are fairly homogeneous in terms of background, education and values. It’s a close and tight community. Plus, I’m careful about whose friend request I accept, which perpetuate the sameness. The reaction to #fusillade was overwhelmingly outrage, sadness and sympathy
  • twitter — I follow all sorts on twitter: runners, professional athletes, whisky & wine lovers, travellers, nano participants, artists, writers, photographers, chefs, GBBO partipants, journalists, tech people, gamergate people, celebrities. Some I follow to see what sort of mischief they get up to. Some are people whose views I may not necessary agree with. I don’t check twitter all the time, but if there is an important event, it’s the first place I go to. Most of the updates for #fusillade was via twitter and the reaction was varied, from sadness and sympathy to more controversial views
  • instagram — instagram was quiet, people continued posting as normal albeit slightly subdued, a couple of the parispaix image

image via the guardian

I spent most of the morning following the livefeeds on the guardian and NYT (they disabled the paywall for this event) as well as #paris and my own feed on twitter.

For some reason, one person’s twitter posts stood out. Suffice it to say they are an author and possibly self publish, I’m not sure. I’ve noticed the tweets by this person for a long time, because it’s all the same: “buy my book” multiple times every day. RTs are when they are @mentioned by others, also writing and publishing and book buying related.

So when the news in Paris broke, and everyone was waiting with bated breath as the police operation went underway, what did this person do? A “buy my book” post. Seriously. In the middle of the largest attack on a western city since 9/11. Where was the common sense? Where was the perspective? Where was the empathy towards the dead, the injured, le gendarmarie?

I don’t know this individual personally.1 I could have, and arguably should have, sent them a friendly DM. But I didn’t because I thought a DM from a stranger will likely be taken the wrong way and have the opposite effect.

I’m not saying don’t post. Life goes on. My feed gradually filled up with non-Paris posts, although I noticed they were more low key. If I had gone running, I would have done my normal running post too. My issue with this author was the constant barrage of promotional posts did not stop2 when it was clearly inappropriate. The excuse that they weren’t aware of what was happening doesn’t fly because they were RTing Paris stuff too.


It was the last straw. So I vented on fb. I added that I’m sad and pissed off. I figured, in a while, I’ll calm down and I’ll delete it. No one will be any wiser.

The post blew up. Mainly agreeing. Like I said, homogeneous group. The post isn’t public, only people I have personal interactions saw it. The comments were somewhat valid, so I thought I’ll leave it up. There were hints that certain commenters saw the same tweets.

One person called me out on it. She disapproved of the way we seemed to have gone all lynch mob on the author. That it was disappointing that no one thought to educate instead of hanging someone out to dry. That we should be more forgiving about mistakes. Since it is someone I really respect, it was time for self-reflection. Was it wrong to say something so harsh? Should I have said nothing? Should I have contacted the author to understand where they were coming from?

I looked at the author’s twitter feed again. Another promotional post had gone up in the meantime. This is the gist of what I added to the OP:

  • it’s common sense to know what to not do in times of tragedy
  • how many times have people written about written about the perils of constantly bombarding readers with “buy my book” posts? Everytime, the answer is don’t do it
  • if you’re on social media, be ready that someone will disagree with you
  • we should stop catering to the lowest common denominator in society

I mean what I say, about lowest common denominators in society. Because a handful drunken louts damaged a property, now no one can go inside [a park, a building etc]. Because one person freaks out at witchcraft and sorcery, Harry Potter books are banned. Because someone has no common sense, we should use kid gloves to oh-so-gently nudge them in the right direction. How many people will step up when a customer insults an autistic employee when most businesses would act the opposite way?

Was I a meanie, posting on fb? Possibly. Did the author deserve it? Possibly, since they seem to have taken a what-not-to-do guide and did exactly those things (yet another promotional post came up later). They probably deserved a more reconciliatory tone. Would I do it again? I sure hope that the circumstances leading to needing to rant never occur, ever.

1 This person posts a lot. Yet I have no clue about their personality. Do they like where they live? Favourite food? Do they have pets? Post something other than writing or RTs that make me interested in you AS A PERSON. For all I know, this is a bot.

2 A thought occurred to me that they are scheduled. I don’t have the energy to check timestamps. Even if they were scheduled, turn it off.

in all about people |

Three weeks ago, on the last leg of our trip back to Chicago from a week in Ptown, in a car park near Penn State University, my friend Carleen took her phone and showed me a fb post from our friend Sandra. Sandra just posted that she had been diagnosed with a very aggressive form of cancer. It was devastating news, yet she wrote it in a positive and uplifting manner. There seemed to be hope.

Two weeks ago, again in a car park (this time after we visited an Italian deli), Carleen took out her phone and showed me a second fb post from Sandra. The cancer was even more aggressive than anyone could imagine, and hospice care was the best they could do. The reality sank in. Over the weekend, Carleen drove to Kansas to visit Sandra. She told me she felt bad for leaving me alone. To me, visiting Sandra took precedence over everything else, it was a no brainer.

One week ago, I flew home. Back to being 13, 14 timezones away. I still thought about Sandra. On tv was a program about the Vatican and I prayed to Papa Francis for a miracle.

Sandra passed away Saturday night their time. I was at my niece’s birthday lunch.

I’m not a great displayer of emotions. I only get touchy-feely-huggy at the conference. I don’t cry at three-tissue movies, I didn’t cry at my grandparents’ funerals; it’s not deliberate and it doesn’t mean I have no feelings. Carleen wrote a touching post about Sandra. And when she described her dream:

There was Sandra! Smiling and looking lovely. I swear she was taller. And she glowed.

She said to all of us, “It’s okay. I’m good.”

There, I cried a little. I need that message to keep me going. I commented on the post that I’m going to hold onto the “It’s okay. I”m good.” I’d like to believe—no, I do believe—that it was Sandra telling us she’s okay and pain free now.

There was a massive outpouring of grief and tribute on fb. People deal with their sorrow their own way. In this day and age of oversharing and social media, feelings and reactions that was kept within are often let out.

Me, I didn’t want to post anything, didn’t want to write pointless platitudes like “everything happens for a reason” because in this case, I can’t see the reason. Losing someone so young, so full of life, so well loved, it’s an ambush on one’s faith. But Carleen also told us to share our memories of Sandra. Be sure to share them, she said.


Sandra’s first con was Dallas 2013. I honestly can’t remember if I met her in person. I left that conference extremely tired. My lasting memories of Dallas 2013 were whisky adventures with Adrian, no time to rest and constantly taking the lift up and down. The only pic I have of Sandra is at the author autograph session. Here she is on the extreme left talking to Andi.

I started reading Letters Never Sent and regretted never having the chance to chat with her. I finished the book, and immediately went back to the beginning to re-read it. I’m not a very retentive reader, I wanted to read the book again carefully, to absorb passages that I missed. Then when I finished, I went back to the beginning again. It’s that good.

I didn’t take many pictures in Portland 2014, but I did get hugs from Sandra. I joined in the well deserved applause when she won two awards.


Ran into her at registration for NOLA 2015 and, yay, not only a hug but pictorial evidence. I attended one of the sessions she was presenting, a 2-part masterclass, intending to stay for the first part then go to another session. Guess what, I stayed for both sessions, it was that good.

I can’t say we were close friends, but you can’t tell by how she treated me. Always a big smile, always giving me full attention, even if 17 people were waiting to pull her in all directions. She was quick-witted, extremely smart and a keen observer of her surroundings. Who else can make gloves left at the side of the road, or pie charts, or food left in a stranger’s car seem engrossing and interesting in an academic way?

The world is poorer at her departure. Three years of knowing Sandra, it’s more enriching than some friends I’ve known for 30 years. That’s her legacy. She touched everyone she met and I’ll never forget her.

p.s. Sandra’s family has asked that in lieu of flowers donations are made to the gcls scholarship fund in her name.

in all about people |


Saw this at a car dealership on our travels. It’s quite true. We can learn knowledge and force ourselves to work hard, but attitude is probably the most important attribute.

in all about people |


The news from #moranstrong is devastating. Our dear friend has been given 3 months. There are no words, and the focus is to continue to send positive thoughts to Sandra and her family.

I find direction from Padre Pio; San Giovanni Rotondo is one of the places mm and I want to travel for pilgrimage. I want to have faith and take heart in his words, to pray and hope and not worry. Worry is useless. The prayer for his intercession:

Dear God, You generously blessed Your servant,
St. Pio of Pietrelcina,
with the gifts of the Spirit.
You marked his body with the five wounds
of Christ Crucified, as a powerful witness
to the saving Passion and Death of Your Son.
Endowed with the gift of discernment,
St. Pio labored endlessly in the confessional
for the salvation of souls.
With reverence and intense devotion
in the celebration of Mass,
he invited countless men and women
to a greater union with Jesus Christ
in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.

Through the intercession of St. Pio of Pietrelcina,
I confidently beseech You to grant me
the grace of [state petition].

Glory be to the Father… (three times). Amen.

in all about people , eating and drinking |


The Moran Mayhem for Friday is to post pics of gross food, in honour of Sandra’s posting of bags of pork rinds (what they call scratchings) inside someone’s car. Lots of pics of pork rinds, as well as the usual suspects: offal, pickles, processed food.

I have a whole 101.1001 album of bucket list foods, some of which are in the gross category. Century egg, snail, chicken feet, herring, durian. I’ll leave that for later. I posted a pic of what I was drinking: 2013 cabernet franc from Truro winery outside Ptown. I was hoping to get an eye-roll from a wine expert like Sandra because I was drinking it out of a 1970s water glass. I’m not that particular about what I drink wine and beer out of: water glass, mugs, plastic cups, chipped bowls. At home I use a glass made by chopping the neck off a soft drink bottle. I know I should be using specific glasses, but sometimes I can’t be bothered.

in all about people , being healthy |


5.25km 40.51min 7.47min/km

The news that our friend Sandra was diagnosed with an aggresive form of cancer, stage IV was so unexpected, so utterly devastating. I had no words. I met Sandra at her first conference and like everyone I know, became a huge fan of her writing, her cheerfulness, her wisdom and simply everything about her.

Our community immediately rallied around her in support. #moranstrong was established. Then the Moran Mayhem Plan (alternatively titled “Laughter is the Best Medicine”) was hatched:

  • monday: #moraning blurry pet and animal pics
  • tuesday: pie charts, pies
  • wednesday: it’s in the syllabus
  • thursday: neon day
  • friday: gross food (it started with Sandra posting pics of pork rinds, which is equivalent to pork scratchings)
  • saturday: #flatsandra out and about (we started that, on our drive to Portland)
  • sundey: bad hair / no comb day

The first Moran Mayhem day calls for wearing the most outrageous neon. I don’t have my brightest running shirts with me, but I do have the bright blue #runlightstand shirt. Plus my vizio orange sauconys. So I went out for a 5k around the field, my first run since the marathon. I hope it’s fitting, since Sandra is a runner too.

in all about people , in the news |

Sometimes heart-warming stories come out of reddit. This is a story about Jo and her incredible daughter Emma. 21 year old Emma has Downs Syndrome, autism, hearing loss and a cleft palate, which prevents her from learning to read and write. After an encounter with a girl who lost her mother, Jo realised that she needed to help Emma plan for her life as Jo won’t be there forever.


Turns out, Emma’s inability to read and write is a bonus, and now she runs her own successful shredding business, Master Shredder. Her clients include a solicitor’s and a credit union; they give her confidential documents and she shreds them in a non-recoverable way. Jo:

If I look at this from the perspective of confidential documents that’s great, she can’t read it. You could put a state secret in front of her and she won’t know.

It’s also really heartwarming to watch Emma working very diligently; and how happy she looks when with other people. Beautiful story.

in all about people |

An interesting tumblr with drawings highlighting the difference between different types of people. More or less, extroverts vs introverts, type A vs type B, neat vs messy. Some of them quite true.


People seem to have either zero notifications or unread emails, or 30,000 of them. I’m the one of the right. Notifications on the iphone are limited to line, whatspp and phone. Absolutely no push email notirications. I clear notifications, missed calls immediately. I’m also proudly inbox zero.


Actually I organise my books alphabetically so I’m neither.


When it comes to sandwiches, I’m the one on the left. I don’t mind triangles, and I understand the argument that they are more aesthetically pleasing. I just find rectangular sandwiches less messy.

in all about people |

Today we take Golo on his final journey. There were set procedures to follow, with small comforts of tried and tested routines. The officials were well organised. The older generation of family and friends will not accompany the group to the “hill” so they sat in one side of the hall. Friends and family who will go to the hill on another side. We lined up for the final viewing, and each placed a flower on the coffin.

Two coaches were provided for the 45min drive to the crematorium. The ceremony was fast, we paid our respects by bowing, and his wife and kids sent him off with us all saying “goodbye.”

The coach dropped us in town for lunch. We all tried to keep the atmosphere cheerful and positive, to remember good times. Some friends took the day off from work so the King’s crew occupied an entire table.

The lunch finished around 2pm and we said our goodbyes. It was a very sad two days, the silver lining was I met up with so many old friends I’ve lost touch with. We promise we’d keep in touch and the next time we meet will be for good reasons. We even have a whatspp group now.

Got a nice message from his closest friend on behalf of his wife:

On behalf of P and Golo’s family, they would like to thank you all for your help, concern and prayers to Golo in the past 4 years especially in his final days. The money for the wrath and education fund for his daughters are most appreciated.

On a personal note, I hope the memorial and funeral services that was organised in such a short time have given you sweet and happy memories we all had with Golo in the past 20 or 30 years! Although sad and unfortunate, we must thank Golo for providing us this opportunity to get together! Some of the faces we have not seen for years have emerged, some of the contacts we have lost have been reconnected!

All the photos that were showed in the memorial video will be uploaded soon in Dropbox or similar website for you to download and the video will be on YouTube. Thanks to those who provided some of the photos but because he just had too many photos, not all your photos could be included, hope you understand!

Finally I hope we can all treasure this great friendship we have had and take care of your health and love your closed ones, these are more important than making money and any other matters!

Tired. Fell asleep on the bus back home.

in all about people |


Golo 高佬 literally translates to Tall Guy. It’s the nickname of my college friend D, who, at 6’, is tall. With this height advantage, he played basketball, volleyball and was one of the first of our group to take up running. He was also smart, gaining a First and completing the research for a PhD. We didn’t keep in close touch after college, meeting up very occasionally when I’m not travelling or living all over the world. I see pictures of his kids on fb. He likes my posts on food and cooking.

Golo passed away 2 weeks ago. Today was his funeral.

I’ve lost people in my life, family members and friends and acquaintances. Some lived a long and (hopefully) happy life; some left us way too early. It’s been hard to come to terms with losing Golo, because I only knew of his illness and how serious it was on a Tuesday and by Wednesday night he was gone. Technically it was Thursday morning around 1.30am, mm and I were amongst the last few visitors who left the hospital at around 10.30pm. Should we have stayed a few more hours? Would we have intruded?

It’s been hard to reconcile that it was lung cancer. Why would a healthy non-smoker, a runner, a loving father of two, get lung cancer? Genetics? Second hand smoke? Carcinogen from way back when he was working in the lab?

<OT>I’m feeling anger towards smokers again. When I was young, I was quite militant about smoking and was a paid-up member of ash. I swore that I would never, ever, ever, become friends with smokers. I’ve mellowed out a little since then, I have a few friends who smoke and even though I wish they’d stop, I respect their decision and will offer sincere support when they decide to quit. Anyway, people reading this. Stop smoking. Please. Please stop. </OT>

When we went to visit at the hospital, so many old college friends were there, someone said there were more people than at an alumni gathering. Such was Golo’s personality, he had so many friends. There was a memorial segment at the funeral today, when they showed a slideshow of pictures donated by friends and family (I sent a couple myself) and there were eulogies from his oldest friends, his sister and his widow. The hall was packed, standing room only. Three hundred people or more, there to pay their respects to a great friend who will be sorely missed.

Tomorrow morning, we accompany him on his final journey.

in all about people |

This is too cute for words. Three year old Sophie Wong recites the taekwondo student creed at her academy in Leeds. I can’t really hear all the words said, but the enthusiasm is unmistakable. It’s great that 3- and 4-year olds are learning the discipline of martial arts.

in all about people |

Couple of inspiring running-related stories in the news, one in humid Miami and one in snowy Boston.

Miami: twin pushes disabled sister at half marathon


Spotted via runnersworld, the inspiring story of how a runner pushed her disabled sister to finish a half marathon together.

Twins Nichole and Jennifer Rider were both runners and athletes through school. In 1995, Nichole was in a car accident that paralysed her from the neck down. Eventually she regained enough mobility to kayak and handcycle. At last week’s Miami Half Marathon, Jennifer and a friend took turns pushing Nichole, the trio finishing the race in 2:06. They were racing to raise awareness for a new organisation Thumbs Up International that aims to match able-bodied runners, swimmers and cyclists with those who need help in participating in races.

I really like this idea, this is something I’d rather do than sign up for a charity place. I’m slow, so pushing or guiding someone will definitely slow me down even more, but I don’t mind. It’s also potentially challenging to match personalities too. Hmm, reminds me of a story idea I have on the backburner, of two people forced together to train and race in exactly the same scenario (able-bodied and less able-bodied).

Thumbs Up is Miami-based only right now, won’t be it great if the idea is picked up by one of the big races?

Boston: local bartender shovels Boston Marathon finish line


Boston and other parts of the northeast part of the US got hammered by snow this week. Someone took a pic of a good samaritan shoveling snow from the Boston Marathon finish line, which is permanently painted on a street. This led to a twitter search for #WhoShoveledTheFinishLine.

Boston Marathon has a very special place in the hearts of both the people of Boston and to runners, moreso after the bombing in 2013. The good samaritan was eventually identified as Chris Laudani, a local bartender, who said he cleared the finish line because it:

isn’t just a strip of paint in the road. It means so much more to us as a community of Boston and of runners

Ironically 4 out of 5 of his Boston Marathon finishes were as a bandit. There is a long tradition of banditing Boston, but that’s another discussion. He’s been offered an official place this year, so there’s a happy ending to the story.

in all about people |


Met up with mm and her mum for lunch, then went to the hospital to visit 87 year old Sister Catherine, who was the principal at auntie’s old school. She had an operation a few days ago and is resting — she looks fine, if a little tired and in slight pain. Auntie and a few of her friends are active in the old students’ association and often lend a helping hand to the sisters and staff there.

Then it was to auntie’s home to pick up a few bags and boxes of household stuff she had in surplus — clothes hangers, hand towels, kettle, pots and plates. The purpose was to visit a newly opened shelter for 14-18 year old girls who needed a place to stay. Either their parents could no longer take care of them, or they were in situations involving possible abuse; in any case all are under the care of a social worker who is responsible for recommending them to the shelter. The home is brand new, in a housing estate, and in need of household things. We found out from the social worker on duty that they are in dire need of rubbish bins. It’s run by another sister and the girls are placed in bunk-bed rooms that sleep 2-8. There are also study rooms, meeting rooms, a kitchen and a communal bathroom. Very impressed with the simple facilities .

Puts our privileged lives in perspective. The selflessness of the sisters, the dedication of the social workers, the plight of the girls, now with hopefully a better future. Sometimes, we need to meet people like these, step back and think about what we can do for the community.

in all about people , eating and drinking |

monparty001salad monparty004quiche

Went to mm’s friend M’s place for a small gathering — only 4 of us plus her helper. Potluck where our friend, mm and I all contributed something. For starter, I made warm roasted peppers, courgettes and butternut squash on green salad. Used the juice from the roasting as dressing plus a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic. The butternut squash was a bit sloppy but tasted nice. The peppers were roasted the safer way, in a hot 200°C oven. The skin was nicely charred but the insides were beginning to melt due to too much cooking. Normally I roast my peppers directly in the hob but mm was horrified. I think I’ll go back to the risky way next time.

For second course M made a bacon, asparagus and mushroom quiche that was simple and tasted great. We agreed the pastry could have been thinner but we were just being deliberately picky, it was great. M also made sangria, quite a lot of soda as she didn’t want too much alcohol for her other guest, I.

monparty011tart monparty015scones

Mains was roast lamb rack and stir-fried green beans, cherry tomatoes and mushroom made my M’s helper. Good stuff. For dessert, I made the french apple tart that didn’t quite work last time. Better this time, I made sure everything including the pastry and filling were chilled for 2 hours and the oven was set at over 200°C. Needed some glaze, but I forgot. Served with vanilla ice cream that, ah, M’s helper mistakenly put in the main compartment in the fridge so it was more like semi-frozen cream. Tasted fine. I really need to work on presentation.

Played mahjong for a bit. Tea time was provided by mm who made cranberry & orange and raisin scones. Very good. Light and fluffy, not too sweet. She was up till 4am last night making them, poor thing.

We all agreed it was a successful gathering and already have plans for our next time. It’s not too common for people to entertain at home here (most people have helpers and don’t know how to cook) but we much prefer this method than going out to a restaurant. More relaxing. Better food.

in all about people |


Remembering that I live next to the pool, sometimes I get disturbed by people and staff walking and talking outside. In the middle of the night, this couple decided to sneak into the pool. 12.30am. And the pool is closed, and covered as it’s only open at weekends during May. These two were smoking, drinking, kicking the water and chatting. I watched for a while, annoyed that they’re out there: I hate when people loiter outside at night and I don’t feel completely safe until they’re gone. But they weren’t doing anything, I lost interest and went back to bed.

p.s. yes, topless.

in all about people |


I was watching an old episode of Rick Stein’s French Odyssey, the one where he arrived at Languedoc and met up with some English people living in rural France. Ah, that’s something that has been a fancy of mine, having a holiday home somewhere in France. Provence, Franche-Comte or Alsace. Sigh. Definitely just a fancy.

One bit that got me LOLing was when he met Helena Frith Powell, who was telling him about a book she had written about living in France and how to help the French understand their new neighbours. The way she described the poor French people’s new neighbours as “nos amis le roast beef” was funny.

in all about people |


I met JE and T for dinner at Hawksmoor. It’s totally my fault for not being aggressive enough to arrange to meet up, leaving it till my last week in London. Silly me. I remember meeting them at PTown 3 years ago. I’m so happy that we caught up and had a fantastic evening of conversation and good food. We’ll keep in touch online of course, I hope we don’t need to wait another 3 years to see each other again. Didn’t get a picture, this is the crumble I made in 2009 that brings back good memories.

in all about people , on the relationship front |

2012ldn002straws Took the bus to Golders Green to meet up with CC and M for lunch. CC picked a family-styled Korean place at the roundabout. Afterwards we went back to their house for wine and snacks.

Rested a bit then headed off to Parkside at Enfield for strawberry picking. Also got some really nice beans and spinach.

in all about people |


I had a visitor this week, my friend A, who is a regular London visitor and was the first user of the spare room. I hope it wasn’t too weird for her, I now realise I’ve been living in my own place too long and not an easy person to live with. My parents and mm know the rules, but it’s not like I have them written up on a noticeboard in the hallway. Everyone has their own way of doing things in their own home, especially the small things, and it really is a delicate balance when people visit.

One of my American friends here have a revolving door of family and friends visiting, I don’t know how they manage it. Well, I guess that with a house with multiple bathrooms, a whole floor dedicated for visitors and a weekly cleaner they don’t have much difficulty. My flat in London is too small to entertain guests for any length of time. I think in small doses (1 person, 1-2 nights) it’s be fine. More than that and I will get antsy Again, parents and mm are the exception. I could have accommodated all of them in Chicago, but here they’ll have to stagger their visits. Heh, there goes my charge-an-arm-and-a-leg plan for people coming for the Olympics.

in all about people |


I don’t do well in taxis, or actually I don’t do well with alcohol which is more accurate. I went out for a colleague’s leaving drinks on Thursday and took a taxi home. Stuff in my backpack fell out and while I was picking them up my wallet fell out of my pocket. I discovered it as soon as I got home but there was nothing I can do. I called the bank to cancel my cards, and hoped for the best, that the taxi driver would at least return the IDs and pictures. The cash was a write off.

Friday morning at work I saw an email. A couple of bankers from BNP picked it up and left it at the Berkeley. I hurried over, with my passport as ID. Everything was intact. They must have seen my business card and got in touch. Wow. I’m so lucky. It’s the first time something like this has happened to me, and I will have to make sure it’s the last.

in all about people , arts and media |


Noted via kottke that Grant Achatz’s memoir is coming out in March. Chef Achatz’s restaurant, Alinea, is ranked best restaurant in the US by Gourmet magazine and is bikeable from home. Home being Chicago, still.

Much to my regret I never managed to make it to Alinea, or any of the top Chicago restaurants with the exception of frontera grill. Will I ever? I can only hope.

in all about people |

Met up with cc for a drink after work. At first she said coffee but we ended up having a couple of pints at a pub. She’s more like mm’s friend, but I would still consider her a good friend. It’s all the friends and friends of spouses and friends of friends connections. When we left, she stayed here, and we had a good catch up.

in all about people |

I had stuff leftover from the garage sale, plus more stuff that ended up in the “give to charity” pile. I was going to take it to my local charity, but wasn’t sure if they wanted everything — I had kitchen stuff, clothes, stationery, dvds, video tapes and other misc junk. In the end, I took them all to work and gave them to my colleague, who will take them to her local christmas sharing program. They take all sorts of things, and support families in need, some of whom are refugees who arrive with just the clothes on their back. It’s the least I can do to help them.

in all about people , outside interests |


via kottke, a map of Europe according to Americans. There are other stereotypes, including Europe according to Britain (most of mainland Europe = Evil Federated Empire of Europe), France, Germany and Italy. Pretty accurate, IMO.

Reminds me of a recent joke that was circulating around fb:

A teacher at an International School gave a class assignment: “Describe your own personal opinion of the food shortage in other countries around the world.”

African student: what is “food”?
European student: what is “shortage”?
Chinese student: what is “personal opinion”?
American student: what is “other countries”?

in all about people |

I’ve never been to a surprise party before. Today I was invited to Car’s cousin’s surprise party. His family prepared the food, and I was drawing birthday cakes on their driveway with the kids. When he got home, everyone was in the garage and yelled out “surprise!” when he opened the garage door to walk into the house. It was really nice. Good party.

in all about people |


My friend db is flying home from Rochester NY to Fairbanks AK. It’s a long, long journey with many legs, including a 20-hour overnight layover in Chicago. So when she asked, it was very easy to offer accommodation for the night. I went to ORD to pick her up, her plane arrived but they had to wait for a free gate, how silly. Then she picked up the wrong suitcase from baggage claim cos we were too busy chatting. Heehee.

We wanted Japanese dinner but both places around here were closed. We ended up at Hamburger Mary’s. I had the mushroom burger, it was great. I intended to have half and save the other half for lunch tomorrow, but I ended up finishing the whole thing.

Not a lot of fancy stuff at home for guests, I hope she’s comfortable. She’ll have to make her own way to the airport tomorrow. I got her a CTA pass though.

in all about people |


Lately I’ve taken to sleeping upside down, with my head at the foot of the bed and my feet propped up on the foot cushion and my normal pillow. I feel much better, and can sleep better in this position. No idea why. May be psychological.

I either sleep all over the bed, ending up diagonal and occupying the whole bed; or I cocoon myself in a nest of pillows and not move. The only other extended period of sleeping the head-at-foot way round was many years ago when mm and i first got together and she had to go away for a few weeks and I was missing her lots. It made me feel better then too.

[This is an inflatable nappak. Not that it’s relevant, I just thought…well, I just did.]

in all about people , going places |


Today’s itinerary was to meet up with my great-aunt and her family to go to the field museum. I hadn’t seen my cousin patrick in many years, and my great-aunt for a couple of years. They live in toronto and are in chicago for my cousin’s work convention. Their whole family drove down. Their 2 kids are so cute and well behaved.


I’m not so much a museum person, but I loved the field museum. The most famous exhibit, Sue the T-Rex, was right up there in the entrance hall. The other exhibits were impressive too, especially the evolving earth and nature walk. Unlike some museums where the exhibits were in a glass cabinet and that’s it, the layout here was interesting and informative. The kids got tired so we left before going to all the exhibits. Well, that means a return visit is necessary.

They went back to their hotel to rest, and we came home. Met up for dinner at ed debevic’s, a fifties type of diner place. The waiter was fake rude, and it was kinda fun. We shared a full rack of ribs, roast turkey plate and dinner salad and there was plenty left over. We treated my great-aunt and her family for dinner, it was a pleasure to spend the day with them.

in all about people |

It’s Car’s birthday today. I drove over to visit. I’d gone running in the morning cos it was a nice day and I knew I had to stack up the calories for dinner. Lunch for me was ice cream at oberweis — dulce de leche and cookie dough in a chocolate-dipped waffle bowl. Sugar rush!! Dinner was at a New Orleans restaurant and I had a very nice bouillabaisse.

I got her a nokia phone for her birthday, since she had been looking for one. It’s one of the few times when I actually think about getting presents that fit the recipient. I realised that I gravitated too much towards what I wanted cos normally it’d be a gadget or kitchen stuff or book. Which, yeah, is what I’d want for my birthday. Plus anything to do with running nowadays.

in all about people |

youtube link:

I wrote vision quest almost 3 years ago, a short story about a blind skiier [warning: fanfic]. At that time I tried looking for examples of how skiier and guide function as a team, and there were only a few articles and videos.

There are more now, just search ‘blind skiing’ on youtube. As the winter paralympics get underway, I just want to express my amazement and awe at the skill and teamwork that goes into a blind skiing team. This is Jessica Gallagher winning Australia’s first ever medal, a bronze, at the winter paralympics.

in all about people , going places |

pt350signing pt351signing

Morning signing with Karin Kallmaker, Donna Kelli, Jocelyn Powers and JE Knowles. It was a pleasure to meet all of them. The store wasn’t very big so initially we spent time at the café opposite.

Pizza lunch with Car, Nell and Trin at Twisted Sister. It was good to catch up with them. Their book everafter has just come out, and sold out at the bookstore already. Wonderful news.


The main event in the afternoon was the reading from the outsiders, a collection of stories by Lynn Ames, Georgia Beers, JD Glass, Susan X Meagher and Susan Smith. Smitty read JD’s story and Susan read Georgia’s so we got an excerpt from each of them. It was a great informal reading, kudos to Lynn, Susan and Smitty for making it so enjoyable.

There was a bsb erotica reading, but I missed it because I was out with Ruth at the Pig. We then made our way to the Post Office café and later at the Vixen ran into Karin and MJ. Boy, I was pretty full of alcohol from all the drinking. Ooops.



in all about people , going places |

proscuitto, fig jam, gorgonzola on ciabatta #ptown

Original plan was to get a haircut, but the places were either closed or full, so i made an appointment for tomorrow. We ended up at the pig where I had proscuitto, fig jam and gorgonzola on ciabatta and I was introduced to magner’s cider. A full pint bottle too. First it was just Jeanine and me, and we deliberately sat at the window so people can see us and vice versa. And it worked! Trish and Jacqui joined us, then Smitty, and I spotted Car walking down the street. T&J mentioned they saw Nell and Trin so I called them to tell them to join us. And Ruth joined too.


First reading was at the Vixen, where we went to support Cheri. Then it was to Gabriel’s for a big reading — 2 panels of 10 authors over 2 hours. Mainly it was to support Bobbi and to meet a few authors I hadn’t met in person yet.

After a quick one at the Pig, we went to the house of Cheri, Trish, Jacqui and Jo for a private reading. Rrrose, DK, Dalia also read. And Trish made us chilli con carne that was fantastic.

Rrrose and DK came to our house to hang out for a while, then Nell and Trin popped by too. Nice evening with friends. I’m feeling like I’m getting the hang of this, and it’s only my second event.

in all about people , eating and drinking |


Spotted via accidental hedonist, a chart that rates our food threshold. The idea is that people generally have limits to what they are willing to eat. The higher the tolerance for “strange” food, the higher their score.

I score 18, because I have no problem with shark’s fin soup — I’ve had more shark’s fin soup than, say, clam chowder. But insects are at 15 and I’m not sure I can stand to consume insects. And therein lies the issue to this linear, and over-simple scale. It’s a good visual indicator, but one man’s meat is another’s poison. It seems also that this scale is more an indicator of the person’s tolerance towards the ethics of the food items rather than taste. The better question is, where is your tolerance to trying these food. I’m willing to bet that many people will automatically go “ewww” to bird’s nest soup before they even try it. In which case I’ll be a 20 because, yes, I am willing to try bear’s heart and monkey’s brain (although, I’m not sure how easy it is to get monkey’s brain nowadays, it seems to be something that westerners obsess about more than necessary). Then again, I’m stuck on insects at 15.

Food tolerance depends on many factors, like ethnicity, upbringing, world experience. When I mentioned panna cotta to a colleague yesterday, and this colleague is a well travelled foodie, they had no idea what it was. I also met someone recently who appears to be a “regular” Mid-Westerner but thinks that the only Japanese food worth eating is sashimi and that most of the Japanese food in the US is too Americanized that its distinctive feature, delicacy, has been lost. Sometimes, people surprise me.

in about me , all about people , my inner science geek |


click here and enter your name. Just do it. It’s awesome.

This is the Personas project from the MIT Media Lab. Basically, it takes your name and searches the web for some context around it. It then takes the words and sites it finds to build a profile of your presence on the web. Obviously if there are multiple people with the same name the profile will be a combination of all the names.

So I entered watty boss and it tells me that I’m online and social, but mostly it’s fame, which earned a big “huh?” from me. Does it mean I’m a celebrity? Paparazzi? Weird.

Now when I enter my real name it gives me:
So pleased!!! It means my effort in keeping my privacy has paid off. Phew.

Obviously the tool is searching for 2 words, not specifically names. So when I put in invisible company it goes through a lot of searches and gives an interesting restult. The process of the search is worth watching, and I screencapped a video.


in 101.1001 , all about people , photography is life |


This was taken a couple of weeks ago at market days. This little girl was dancing at the corner of the stage where the ABBA tribute band was playing. Cute expression and good background. I guess it’s the music as a whole, can’t believe she knows any ABBA songs per se. Way before her time.

in all about people |

Long flight, with a 4 hour transit in the middle. I’ve been up for I don’t know how many hours, eaten all sorts of unhealthy food, and slept on and off.

i shouldn’t complain. I can hang out at the lounge, I have comfortable seats on the plane. And there is on demand movies and tv programs. Planes are where i watch the latest films, sometimes even catching up on old ones.

This trip I watched Eagle Eye, Ghost town and Juno. i find that i tend to gravitate towards smash bang adventures or light comedies on planes — anything else is too heavy. Eagle Eye was so implausible and kinda silly, but i loved the mindless loudness. Ghost Town was funny in places, but i wouldn’t have wanted to pay for it. Juno was really good, as all the reviews said when it came out.

in 101.1001 , all about people |


I wish I could have taken this from the front but it would have been an invitation to get punched. Or at least majorly scowled on. I was walking from my hotel to the office in London and spotted this girl walking right in front of me. And this lightbulb totally went bing in my head. I mean, fedora, buzz-ish cut, mobile phone glued to ear, low slung jeans, flannel (I think, at least it’s checked) shirt, messenger bag, dunks.

Need I say more?

in all about people |

Today is Blog Action Day on Poverty. Almost 10,000 sites have registered to take part, and the numbers are still growing.

Today thousands of bloggers will unite to discuss a single issue - poverty. We aim to raise awareness, initiate action and to shake the web

It’s a difficult day for me to post, cos I’m in the middle of travelling to Chicago. Then again, it’s a long day for me, cos I gain half a day through timezone changes. I’ll get several chances to post throughout the day so that’s what I’ll try to do. Keep checking back for updates.

top: at home


It’s ironic, that I’m supposed to be posting about poverty, and I’m writing this in the business class lounge at one of the world’s largest airport. In about half an hour, I’m boarding the plane where I will be given pre-flight drinks. Shortly after take-off, I’ll be served a full course meal and cos it’s business class it’s real cutlery and real plates. I’ll have a comfortable bulkhead seat, and a large selection of films and tv shows to choose from.

I’ve never known poverty. Not in my life, not anyone I know. I can understand it on an intellectual level: the lack of money, resources and most of all hope. But I’m not so sure I can comprehend it on an emotional level. I don’t know how to deal with the impact if I witness or falls victim to poverty.

I’m not trying to be arrogant or callous. I don’t think I’m that unusual that I’m cushioned from the harshness of life. Does it make me a bad person? Does the fact that I do very little in terms of helping to fight poverty make me a bad person? I dunno. Who is judging me? Who am I accountable to aside from myself? Are superficial gestures like occasionally giving to charity, or sponsoring someone on kiva, or supporting OLPC enough? I can’t say.

transit: tokyo airport

On the site there is a list of 88 ways to do something about poverty. Some are general, some are involved and some are just small tasks. I’m still not so sure, cos reading through the list I didn’t get a lightbulb inspiring moment.

A few years ago I thought about joining vso but nothing came out of it. I don’t seem to have the skills they need, and I’m not so sure I can hack the conditions. All excuses, I know. What is on my 101.1001 list is to look into earthwatch or similar. Of course that doesn’t combat poverty directly, but it satisfies my volunteering urge.

arrival: chicago

There’s still time to spread the message and awareness.

Blog Action Day 2008 Poverty from Blog Action Day on Vimeo.

in all about people , on the relationship front |

I just came home from a wedding dinner of an old friend from college. Man, it’s a huge number of years since we were all students together (I originally put a number, but decided against it :P). Looking around the group, there’s so much achievement, we should all be proud. This is the largest alumni gathering I’ve been to, a good 5 tables were King’s people. Some I hadn’t seen for years but we chatted like the old days; some I hardly recognise; some were even before my time.

The dinner was at the Four Seasons, very posh, very grand. I’m glad I went home after work and changed into my nice $300 suit. There were people in jeans but mostly it was formal. Still, I was unconventional and wore my black and yellow Converse. Hee.

To my friend’s credit, he managed to seat people at the same table as their closest contemporaries. It was quite surreal. The only blemish was that mm couldn’t make it cos she’s on a business trip. I tried not to sound like I’m an expert on where she is, what she’s doing but sometimes people ask cos they care and I tell them. Well, we’ve known our friends for far too long, if they have issues surely they would have defriended us long ago.

in 101.1001 , all about people , photography is life |

One of the specialist chefs at the Peking Garden restaurant in Hong Kong. This is one of the best restaurants for Peking duck and when we were there on a Saturday lunchtime, the ducks were served non-stop.

The duck would come out of the kitchen, shiny and fresh. The waiter would present it to the table for inspection, then it goes to the chef’s station. Diners have a choice of skin only or skin with meat. In short precise strokes the chef slices even portions onto an oval platter with a duck handle.

It’s one of the greatest dishes in the world, and you can see the focus and expertise in this chef’s action.

in about me , all about people |

I joined another team for a 3/4 day team building offsite today. It was fun. Before the offsite, our facilitator asked us all to complete a DiSC profile because it helps to identify the type of person our co-workers are. DiSC stands for the 4 dimensions in this profile: dominant, influence, steadiness, conscientiousness.


I turn out to be high SC and low I. Generally it’s pretty true, that I’m predictable, systematic, self-reliant and can be inactive and realistic. There are altogether 15 different profiles depending on whether someone is high D or high C or high DI. My pattern is the closest to a Perfectionist. Which I don’t quite agree cos I’m not big on details and get bored easily.


There are some very funny descriptions for the dimensions.

Shopping for groceries:

  • the D is the impulse shopper. No list.
  • the i tells you where everything is in the store, whether you ask or not.
  • the S is prepared, has a list, and gets it done efficiently.
  • the C wouldn’t think of going shopping without coupons and a calculator.

Ask for something on their desk:

  • the D has a messy desk. They say, “it’s there somewhere — you look for it.”
  • the i says, “I’m busy right now. Give me a few minutes and I’ll get back to you.” They don’t know where it is, but won’t admit it.
  • the S has everything filed in alphabetical order or by color code.
  • the C says, “It’s the third thing down in that pile.” The desk may be messy, but they know where everything is.

in all about people |

Over 10 years ago, I started as a completely fresh employee, with very little knowledge of anything in our business. I reported to my ex-boss, who joined a few weeks after me. We were the only 2 people in our team in those early days, and I learned so much from her. She was patient with me, and I worked hard. She sent me all over the world, and even suggested that I went to a new company when they offered me a good job.

Had lunch with her today, it was a long time since we’d met up. I really must make an effort to keep in touch better because she’s become more a friend than ex-colleague / ex-boss.

Once in a blue moon you meet someone who has a lasting influence on your life. I’m the lucky one.

in 101.1001 , all about people |

Because of Professor Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank’s Nobel Prize, we’re pretty familiar with the concept of microfinancing. Lenders pool together to lend small amounts to the borrowers in mostly poorer countries who don’t have access to the traditional bank loan facilities. Over time, the loan amount is repaid. This is an good way to connect people who want to help with people who need help.

One of the more accessible organisations, and certainly one that fully uses the advantages of the internet, is kiva. Kiva describes how its members can participate simply as:

Choose an Entrepreneur, Lend, Get Repaid

A few months ago, around Christmas and New Year, there was so much attention (helped by coverage on Oprah) that there were a shortage of loans requested and lenders were limited to $25 each. Now that the year is underway and the New Year resolution fever died down, things are back to normal. I decided to wait at Christmas, and I find that it was a good decision.

Scrolling through almost 30 pages of loans reqested, the loan amounts requested were small (a few hundred dollars, not many over $1,000). Most of the purposes were to buy goods for resale, retail, transportation, construction, and home improvement. Some are near their target already. I was caught by the entry for a lady in Benin. I have to admit I won’t be able to point out Benin in a map, but it didn’t matter.

I put down $50. Payment is through PayPal (who doesn’t charge their usual fee for kiva). Kiva collects the funds then distributes to the Field Partner for further dissemination to the entrepreneur.

It felt good to be able to help someone. It’s a small amount for me, but if it can help make a difference, then I’m only too happy to do my part. Virginie Bahini, I wish you the best.

in all about people , easily amused |

I hate chain and forwarded joke emails with a vengeance. I’m afraid to say that any friend or acquaintance who sends me these will themselves vastly marked down in my opinion of them. If I can get away with it, I usually tell them never to send me such emails ever again. Why am I so rude?

  1. It’s a waste of my time to have to read and delete the email
  2. I don’t want my details to end up in some spammer’s email box — I have no control over the action of the other people on the recipient list

So anyway I got one of these emails from an ex-colleague today. I was less stressed about it cos it came to my work mailbox. Some of it was actually funny. But I will practice what I preach and not forward to anyone. Instead I’ll post them here.

techcartoon01 techcartoon02 techcartoon03 techcartoon04 techcartoon05

in all about people , techtalk |

Yesterday was delete your myspace account day. The person who started the movement was fed up with myspace so he started a facebook group to tell people to delete their myspace accounts on a set day. Now the irony of using a social networking site to tell people to nix a social networking site is … ironic, and I can’t help wonder why it’s not Delete All Your Social Network Accounts day. Surprising number of tech savvy people don’t use these sites but the fact of the matter is the rest of the population are blind lemmings, so there’s no getting away from them. Speaking of social sites, young people are not happy that older folks are going online. They cite examples like their Mom IMing them or their Grandmother posting on their facebook wall.

Well newsflash, noobs, the older folks made the internet, many of them have been online longer than you’ve been alive so show some respect. Also, to the university student complained:

“I mean, I’m in university. There are bound to be at least a few drunken pictures of me on Facebook, and I don’t need my parents’ friends seeing them.”

Why are you inflicting your drunken pictures on an unsuspecting public and most importantly, are you sure you want your drunken pictures accessible by a potential employer?

in all about people |


No your eyes didn’t deceive you. 22 December is global orgasm for peace day. They’ve even designated a particular time so people can synchronise their … contributory efforts at 06:08 GMT which is the time of the winter solstice.

The purpose

To effect positive change in the energy field of the Earth through input of the largest possible instantaneous surge of human biological, mental and spiritual energy.

And I quoted that with a straight face.

There’s nothing wrong with having sex, the whole world does it. It’s also kinda fun in a harmless way to synchronise so that it happens at an agreed time. But to say that it’s for peace and the spiritual energy generated will help global warming? These people are either completely wacky or desperate for their 15 minutes of fame. Actually no, I think this is a hoax.

in all about people , objects of desire | | comments (2)

I watched as a small object tumbled out of my colleague’s hand and into the dark murky sewers the other day. I couldn’t see what it was but she said it was a diamond earring. Yikes.

So why would anyone want to put bits of stone all over their bodies — that are prone to being lost or stolen and cost a whole lot more than their size would suggest? Here’s what I think of diamonds. They’re pretty, sparkly and um a form of carbon. I mean, yes they’re expensive because they’re rare — or are they rare because they’re expensive? Like most of the Earth’s supply of carbon is as graphite or silica, it must be elitist to be one of those rare carbon atom that makes it into a diamond.

diamond graphite

Alright. I’ll stop it with the science geek mode. So really, why do women love diamonds? The answer, apparently, is History, Hollywood and Hope:

  • History — revered from ancient times, it’s an appreciation of the effort and expertise needed to get it from a rough rock to the dazzling white light form.
  • Hollywood — represents all that is glamorous about owning a diamond. I’ve yet to meet someone who wears a large diamond and not want to show it off. It’s a status symbol, as well as a sign that someone somewhere treats the wearer (okay, I’m gonna be gender-vague from now on) is loved and worthy. It’s like saying, “How much am I worth? Look at the price tag” but a little more subtly.
  • Hope — people normally want to be wanted; and possession of such an object of desire may be a way of vicariously living through that desire.

I get it; but I don’t really get it.

Now, I’m far to prone to be attracted to gadget-y stuff. So imagine my reaction when I saw the gold-plated macbook pro on engadget. Slobber slobber drool drool. To be honest I’m not entirely convinced about the gold-plating but the diamond encrusted apple logo sure catches the eye.

gold mbp

Luxury laptops are nothing new, nor is putting diamonds on all sorts of gadgets — like swiss army knives, iPod shuffles, Nokia N95, even a mouse. Diamonds are diamonds. Not even the suave leather bound thinkpad reserve is as nice as the mbp.

gold mbp

So while women like diamonds as rings or necklaces or somehow displaying on their bodies, I want it on my mbp. Let’s not mention that laptops have a habit of becoming outdated when new ones are released; and I’m not sure how we can open the casing up to add RAM. Hee.

ETA: and the blinging continues with the 24-carat gold iPhone.

in all about people |

some genius teenager has this habit of starting eye-roll worthy threads on one of the forums I frequent. From “I’m going to be an auntie!” (I’m impressed at the restraint — only one exclamation mark) to “fave showegel” smiley eyeroll Lately it’s been “the first thought that came to your head this morning” followed by “the very last thought that was in your mind last night.”

Christ, what next? “your thoughts at 3.18pm on tuesday”? We need quality, not quantity. No wonder sane people are deserting that place in droves.

And we wonder why the US Navy called the myspace generation a somewhat alien life force.

in all about people | | comments (2)

cover cabride

This was the cover of the local weekly freebie magazine. Alright, you say. It’s a free magazine what do you expect, you ask. But this is supposed to be a hip magazine, I counter. It lists the newest restaurants, bars and indie films. It syndicates Dan Savage, for crying out loud.

And yet, it had an article this week that talked about how there are more women than men, and how as a woman’s success (and with it implied intelligence and wealth) increases, her chances of catching a man decreases.

Oh, lordy.

How incredibly sexist. How incredibly heterosexual.

As an example of how modern women think, the authors of the article paraded out several women, including a fortysomething media consultant who said,

It’s a matter of sophistication and higher expectations … Women are attracted by the whole lifestyle — expensive dinners on holidays and birthdays, a nicer apartment. Emotionally, women also expect more, and material things are symbols of more.

Talk about shallow. If this sort of sugar daddy worship is the best representation of this generation of high achieving career women, then I truly live in fear. Sophisticated blah! Ms Media Consultant knows nothing but her comfort zone and traditional thoughts. She’d march in Pride cos she likes the pretty rainbow colours but as soon as she hears what Pride is about, she’ll hightail out of town faster than lightning.

My objection is that there’s the fundamental assumption that people need to be in some sort of coupledom. Now may be it’s my own experience but being in a relationship, while nice, isn’t the be all and end all of anything. Despite all the romances I’ve read lately, it’s not enough to convince me that such deep emotional connection can be maintained over any length of time. Proponents speak of affection and companionship; again I’ll say nice but not sufficient to sustain the investment needed.

Okay, that was kinda extreme. I’m not against relationships because that would make me a huge hyprocrite, and not fair to mm. This is the wrong place to talk about bbmm though. But it brings me neatly to my next objection of the article, which is it always a heterosexual stereotype? Why does a woman always looking for a man exclusively? Where is the tolerance? Where is the open mind?

This is maddening. I give up. I’m gonna stick to writing about macs, iPhones and posting pictures of food.

in all about people , techtalk |

Friend of mine asked if I was on Facebook. I replied “no, but I can be.” I’m usually late to the party (though early among my immediate social group) but I tried myspace for a while and wasn’t interested. I like the music part of myspace very much, great place to find new artists. But friending people? Having thousands of “friends” for basically the headcount rather than actual interaction? I don’t get the appeal.

I’m not saying I’m against having a wide social network. With the internet, geography and physical distances have become less important in making, and maintain, friends. I’m comfortable in my small compact network. The virtual world is a convenient tool and environment, that’s all.

This is what a survey from researchers at Sheffield Hallam University said.

Although the numbers of friends people have on these sites can be massive, the actual number of close friends is approximately the same in the face to face real world.

Some theories that say that most people can handle around 150 contacts — friends, co-workers, neighbours — in their circle, and tend to have 5 close friends. The others are people we keep to varying degrees of closeness. And this is the same in the case of real life friendships or online friendships. Or a combination of both.

While it is likely that some people will have more than 150, it seems overly optimistic IMHO to think one can keep in touch with friends numbering in the 5- or 6-figure marks. Remember the guy who has 19,000 flickr contacts and claims to follow them all? How can they be more than a passing fancy?

The researchers agree, that face to face contact is almost a must for close friendships. “Face to face contact is a requirement for intimate friendships. There are many emotional cues that people give face to face, such as smiling and laughing, which are impossible to fake, whereas online it is easy to say “You are wonderful, I love you.”

It’s common sense, really. Until you actually meet someone, you don’t know if they’re real or not. With online friendships, there’s always that uncertainty, no matter how close you’ve become; or how much you talk to each other.

Anyway, back to social networking sites. The likes of usenet, forums, communities, chat and now flickr, myspace, facebook, twitter — has facilitated this. Made contact easy, and maintaining contact easy too. But I must admit, that without my having flown halfway round the world so often, it may be harder to maintain the closeness of my friendships. I don’t have many close friends in my immediate vicinity — basically it’s mm (and her sis when she was alive). I fall below the threshold of 5 close friends too.

I’m not on facebook. Yet. I didn’t like how I have to enter my name and all sorts of personal information. I know I can put an anonymous name but I dunno, it icked me out. People on the internet used to be so paranoid of their identity, but with the advent of myspace, facebook and the like, it seems Real Name is In. I don’t know if this newfounded open-ness is goo, or whether people are becoming more blasé. The recent quechup fiasco is perhaps a wake-up call, that we need to be vigilant again.

Which brings me to the final part of this post. I added some small icons in the meta area of each post. These are social network bookmarks. What are they? I think the BBC explains it best. Click on one and it’ll bookmark it online, then you can retrieve and share it with the community. Now why would I suddenly offer the facility for people to share and tag a post? Why would anyone want to bookmark one of my posts? I get 8 people voting in a poll and I start getting delusions of grandeur.

social bookmarks

Anyway, from left to right:, digg, facebook, google, reddit, stumbleupon.

in all about people |

Met ex-colleagues for lunch to celebrate our ex-boss’ birthday. It was nice seeing them. Gave out souvenirs from Chile (copper bookmarks and glass containers with Chile flag) which they seemed to like.

Spent the afternoon at PL’s office chit-chatting. She has a good job now, well within her capabilities and suits her very much. The old gang is still pretty cohesive, the commonality is the stuff going on in the office.

Dinner at Sis’ place, she ordered Thai food, yummy. She bought an mbp and I went over to teach her and to set it up. It already has the main programs loaded so my task was easier. I hope she enjoys using it.

in all about people |

What are we, clueless? Classless? Are the boundaries blurring? Remember the grocer’s daughter from Grantham? Or how Tony Blair said “we’re all middle class now”?

I can’t remember the source, because it’s from when I was really young, before the internet age … but anyway, the difference between how a British person and an American views class is typified by their reaction on seeing a Rolls Royce on the road. The Brit, especially someone who grew up during New Labour, will spit at it calling the owners tossers or wankers. The American will say “someday I’ll own that.”

The Times ran a series of articles where columnists wrote about their take on their own class. We had upper, upper middle, middle, lower middle and working class. It’s interesting, in the article about upper class Lord Onslow first apologised for having “been accused of being upper class” and then goes on to say that his upper-classness is distinguished by his finding “it almost impossible to force the word toilet between [his] lips.”

And the bell curve brings us to the three levels of middle class. Upper middle class people are the ones who shop at the gourmet supermarkets, embrace eastern spirituality (in the comfort of their living room), drive Beamers and Audi’s. But they are also the ones with university degrees and classic professional jobs who bang on about how working-class they are, like Damon Albarn singing Country House in a mockney accent or the posh chick telling Jarvis Cocker she wants to live like Common People.

The middle-middle class, like all middle-of-the-road people, are not going to set the world on fire. Instead they keep the economy running, they support the rainforests and the royals. The lower middle class on the other hand, are unflashy, a bit trad, safety-first, and unintellectual.

Obviously, everyone aspires to be working class. Because it’s individual, init? It’s thumbing your nose at the Establishment, init? Plus, secretly we all want to be as cool as John Lennon.

in all about people |

via mefi, the field guide to the loner. Duh, talk about pointing out the obvious — loners don’t have the pathological fear of social contact or as pathetic as society would have us believe. Apparently three-quarters of the population is classified as extroverts, which means the other quarter are not understood. Introverts basically interact with the world in a different way than extroverts.

According to Jonathan Cheek, a psychologist at Wellesley College, some people simply have a low need for affiliation. These “loners-by-preference” may have inherited their temperament; or simply not having many friends as a child or growing up in a family that values privacy.

I’m 100% introverted according to the esteemed Jung Typology Test. More specifically I’m type ISTJ — 100% introverted, 25% sensing, 75% thinking and 56% judging. So I guess I need a field guide to understand me? Hee.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not scared of social interaction, that would make me autistic. I’m not shut off from the world, that would make me a hermit. I’m not socially inept, that would make me shy. I’m simply not interested in the other 6.7 billion people I have to share my living planet with.

If I need to interact with people and I can do it tolerably successfully. I do okay at work and within my tiny social circle. But for me interacting with people is a lot of work. I have to think about what they want, what they may be thinking and all that shit, it takes me away from time that I can be spending with myself. I get bored with it eventually.

So yeah, the long and short of it is … I don’t like people. Oh, to debunk the myth of lonely person living alone surrounded by cats, I don’t like pets either.

in all about people |

mm called around lunchtime while travelling, I was so happy.

I had dinner with my parents, and I was never so happy to see them. Sis would have called too, if she wasn’t away, the happy thoughts include her.

Dearest dearest Zezy sent a card.

These were the only people who bothered.

I guess in the scheme of things, family matters.

in all about people |

After the blip that was the Nigella pancake post yesterday, we return you to regular mind babbles. The topic this week coincidentally has been speech. I’m not sure why, it wasn’t planned.

Via kottke’s remaindered links comes today’s fun language tidbit. The immortal phrase “my hovercraft is full of eels” in more languages than we will ever need. (Not all translations show up because of character set.)

Also on the site, translations for “a sandwich short of a picnic” and “this gentleman/lady will pay for everything.” Not to mention under Useful Phrases we have the Esperanto for “I want to hug that squirrel,” the Finnish for “is it ok if I bring my laptop in the sauna?” and the Swedish for “the giant crayfishes are attempting to conquer the Earth!” Huh.

in all about people | | comments (1)

The speech accent archive has over 630 recordings of people from all over the world reading the same English paragraph. The idea, according to the archivists, is to “uniformly exhibit a large set of speech accents from a variety of language backgrounds.” They rightly point out that people notice it if someone speak with an accent different from theirs and may even make judgements about the speaker based on accent alone.

Great site, where people can search by clicking on the flags of the country or region they are interested in. I had loads of fun listening to the various accents, and with some I found myself imitating them a little bit.

This is the paragraph they read. May be I should record me and save it here. Hahaha, I dunno.

Please call Stella. Ask her to bring these things with her from the store: Six spoons of fresh snow peas, five thick slabs of blue cheese, and maybe a snack for her brother Bob. We also need a small plastic snake and a big toy frog for the kids. She can scoop these things into three red bags, and we will go meet her Wednesday at the train station.

in all about people | | comments (1)

I just came home from dinner with … people who are kinda friends but more like people who work in the same field as me and we meet up 2 or 3 times a year to catch up. There were 5 of us and between us, we are or have worked at most of the bulge bracket firms. Very diverse bunch, from different backgrounds, countries and with different aspirations.

Like all modern day appointments, we had to find a day when everyone was available. In the past it would involve many back and forth emails of people picking dates and someone having to scroll through the emails to find the best date. No longer. I can’t remember where I found it, may be cnet or Wired or bb, but with doodle it’s done the web 2.0 way. Just set up a poll, send people the link and let them make the entries themselves. Okay, it doesn’t have fancy bells and whistles, but that’s the beauty of this application —- the simplicity. Even one of our group, who is a self-confessed computer illiterate, was able to use it and liked it.


in all about people |

New York Times, first spotted via kottke, the hidden meaning behind email sign-offs. Apparently “Best” is a brush-off. Like, huh?

We definitely have become more casual in email correspondences. In terms of legality it’s like a letter, but the tone is certainly not that of a letter. At work I usually start with “Hi” and end with “regards” which I think is fairly safe. Sometimes I replace “regards” with “thanks”. I don’t like using a sig — a lot of people have their department, title, phone numbers at the bottom of their emails. I know it’s supposed to be professional, but I don’t even answer my phone ‘properly’ let alone email. “Best” is quite American to me, I’m fine with it, though I won’t use it myself. With colleagues I know better I may use “cheers”.

With friends I don’t even sign-off, I think it’s quite acceptable. Not meant to be rude, it’s like posting in forums, your username is already there, so why repeat it?

Salutations are over-rated anyway.

in all about people | | comments (1)

From feministing, via the Chicago Metblog, funny sign in a Chicago coffee shop.

I think it’s harmless and funny. mm will agree too. But some feminists seem to believe (rightly so, given their standpoint) that the fun is at the expense of women. Am I a jerk for not agreeing? mm isn’t a possession, but I definitely won’t hold Filter responsible if I lost her. To wildly (*groan*) misquote Oscar Wilde, to lose one’s gf looks like carelessness.

in all about people |

gakked from JetWolf’s LJ. One of the lengthiest and most detailed online personality tests. Some parts are accurate, though the sliding scale of the survey is kinda different.

in all about people , in the news |

I was reading the Style section of the New York Times. More specifically an article about the American tea revolution — how tea sales has grown 4 times over the last 10 years, how Lipton (eww) will soon sell a range of long-leaf teas in pyramid-shaped nylon bags; and how US tea drinkers are becoming more discerning.

Newsflash. Whittard’s has been selling large-leaf teabags for years and they have all sorts of different varieties — Earl Grey, darjeeling herbal, even ginger & peach flavoured green tea. And we’ve had Pyramid tea bags since 1996. So what has the NYT all excited is old news, stale tea dregs if you may.

And this palaver about premium brands? Marketing, so people pay more for their teas. Apparently, the “English often drink tea with milk and sugar, so they like it dark and strong, just the way cheap tea bags make it.” OH MAN! Is that why I can’t get any decent tea in the US? Because they associate dark and strong with cheap, so they make their tea light and tasteless instead? I thought it was the water, now I know it’s not so simple.

Anyway, this post isn’t about tea. It’s about my eye being caught by the large photo at the bottom of the style section, where it gives me a snippet of what is in other sections. Clicking on the Weddings & Celebrations section brought a pleasant, though slightly uneasy, surprise.

There, the top wedding & celebration of this weekend is the commitment ceremony at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, the restaurant in Pocantico Hills NY where Mr Adam Berger and Mr Stephen Frank played hosts to 120 guests. A nice pic of the groom and groom and a clichéd “we were so clueless, to not see it immediately cos we were both dating women” story.

I’m supposed to be happy, that this is reported in the NYT in such a matter-of-fact way. But somehow the article reads very contrived and too “fairy-tale” like. May be it’s the fact I’ve never found the NYT writing style to be smooth, I think they like mashing up their words into a hard to digest ball of pretentiousness. I don’t know how the NYT determines which couple makes the top story, I sincerely hope it’s not the fact that one is a VP at GS and the other an associate at a law firm. No I don’t think so, they are common fodder in the NYT society section.

The political argument against gay marriages doesn’t make sense. Why does it matter to me who someone marries? As long as they don’t affect me, doesn’t cause any harm to the planet, and is not taking anything away from someone else, I have absolutely no grounds to object. This is so stupid.

in all about people |

In the past it was “let’s meet by the fountain at 2pm.” So I know what to do and plan my time accordingly. I’ll still get there at 1.45pm and 99.9% of the time people will be late and I’ll end up standing there for half an hour, fuming. How many hours and days have I wasted at bus-stops, doorways and landmarks?

Now it’s “why don’t we meet when we’re done, around 2pm. We’ll call each other nearer the time.” So I have no control over what to do, I get anxious and end up getting there at 1.45pm anyway and yes, 99.9% of the time I’ll end up waiting there for half an hour, fuming.

Gets worse.

I’m in the shower, the phone rings non-stop. Like I’d scramble out to get the phone? I don’t do that. So 5 mins later I get out (I’m quick with my showering) and I check my missed calls. “Oh I was in the area thought we’d go out for something to eat / drink. But I couldn’t reach you so I’m on my way home now.”

Man, why can’t they have called like 10 minutes before they were due to leave and not at the last moment, ie giving me absolutely no margin of error. And I missed out the something to eat / drink because stupid me, I wasn’t sitting next to the phone waiting for it to ring.


in all about people |

It was very hot today. Veryveryvery hot. I stayed at home, the only times I ventured outside the apartment were: 1) to go downstairs to get the newspaper / mail and 2) to take out the trash. I never left the building.

Lots of people using the swimming pool, and as my desk faces smack onto the pool, I can see everyone. Couples lounging in the sun, older people reading, kids playing. They’re not so noisy. There’s a little girl who must be about 3 now, I remember when her parents took her to the pool when she was no more than a few weeks? months? old, and now she can swim by herself (with arm floats). Nice family.

in all about people , in the news |

I guess it’s mm’s influence, but articles about religion catch my eye more nowadays. Or perhaps not, because I would have zoomed in on any article that tells us about monks in Wisconsin with a laser cartridge filling business.


I mean, think about how monasteries, any religion, and how they cover their expenses. Most do not receive any financial help from the government or the church. Donations, fund-raising events, tourism (selling souvenirs), farming, wine- and cheese-making are the activities that come to mind.

Looks like the monks have finally entered the 21st century and the wonders of e-commerce. Behold Laser Monks of the Cistercian Abbey of Our Lady of Spring Bank in Wisconsin. Founded in the late 1920s, their fund-raising efforts have included selling cheese gift boxes, farming, real estate development, they had even considered building a four star golf course.

That was, until Fr. Bernard McCoy, O. Cist., Steward of Temporal Affairs at the abbey, also CEO of Laser Monks, decided to look for print cartridges for their laser printers.

In my search for a toner cartridge, I was suddenly struck with how incredibly expensive this black dust and a few squirts of ink were. “There must be a better way,” I said to myself.

What started as a small business grossing $2000 in 2002 has grown into sales of $2.5 million in 2005, with expected sales to exceed $5 million in 2006. That’s phenomenal in any accountant’s books. They do very little advertising, but they don’t seem to need it, with international coverage in the likes of cnn money.

After expenses are deducted, the rest of the profits go toward charity and various programs.

The retail and services industry is so cut-throat that consumers will latch onto any gimmick or novelty that catch their fancy. A Catholic abbey selling cheap print cartridges (they recently expanded to office supplies) where profits go to charity? It appeals to anyone looking for a bargain and to get a sense that they’re “doing good.”

A little research, for a HP Q7560A (HP 3000 series), Laser Monks sell for $128.95 while both staples and HP sell for $134.99. The cheapest at is at $115.30 but for some reason I’m hesitant to buy automatically from the cheapest place.

If I had a printer, I’d buy from the monks too.

in all about people |

After 3.5 years in the same office, I moved desks today. Our department expanded, taking over additional space, so now we’re kind of l-shaped. I moved from a private office to a corner cubicle, in fact … think about it as the end of an L. I don’t mind losing the office, it’s a quiet corner and I can come and go via the backdoor with very few people noticing. Plus there is a view and this morning, lots of sunshine.

My colleague who was moved to the cubicle in front of me wasn’t very pleased. He’d already complained when the floorplan was revealed, saying that the space was too small, too open, too noisy, too near the pantry etc. Normally he’s an easy going person, no idea why the move has riled him up so much. Bottom line was he wanted my space but when I talked it over to the move coordinator I was reluctant, and the coordinator agreed. If I were to be harsh, I was losing an office, ie on the surface being pushed further down the pecking order. If anyone were to get the next available office, it’d be me, not him.

So this morning we showed up for unpacking and he was pissed. I could see his point, his space was too narrow. So we got the coordinator and the facilities people and we tried to come up with a solution. Mr Difficult was sulking, and I really didn’t what I was supposed to do. I’m quite happy about my cubicle, it’s smaller but I’m okay with it. The whole morning his face was so dark I hated the atmosphere and felt uneasy sitting at my new desk. I talked to other people and left for lunch early.

Now tonight, they’re gonna shift my desk to give him more room to move. He’s still not pleased, but I feel I’ve gone out of my way to accommodate, and I couldn’t do anymore. Our coordinator told our boss and boss agrees.

I’m still having to get used to being in an open office. Sound travels and people are trying to talk to me from other cubicles. It’ll be interesting.

in all about people , easily amused |

via boing boing (where else?), a counterscript to use on telemarketers

My usual reaction to telemarketers is “where did you get this phone number?” followed by a diatribe on how I did not give permission etc. That’s on a good day. On a bad day I’d swear at them, then hangup.

So this new method, of asking them questions, like having them spell their name, ask about how much they earn, do they get dental plan … is cunningly hilarious, as are the comebacks when they get upset.


I wonder if I’ll have the patience though. I think I’ll end up reverting to my usual rude-o method.

in all about people |

From reuters.

One in five Americans believe the best way to get rich is to win the lottery, while 11 percent say inheriting money is the way to go, a survey showed on Monday. Asked the most practical way to accumulate “several hundred thousand dollars,” 21 percent chose winning the lottery, compared to 55 percent who thought saving something each month for many years was best, according to a survey by the Consumer Federation of America and the Financial Planning Association.

Dude, the odds of winning the lottery are … kinda hopeless. Just randomly googling “lottery odds” gives me (from the lottery site):

lottery odds
US Powerball 80,089,128
Australian PowerBall 54,979,155
British Lotto 13,983,816
Hong Kong Lotto 10,737,573
Irish Lotto 5,245,786

Time to move to Ireland?

in all about people , workstuff | | comments (1)

My poor boss asked me if there’s anything wrong with her. Apparently some people made not so stellar remarks about her and commented that she suffers from favoritism.

What rubbish. She manages a whole team of people, and cannot possibly give equal attention to everyone. People need to realize bosses are people too.

in all about people |

From salon. You may need to click through a few screens of ads to get to the main page but right now it's two pages of an absolutely stunning Audi TT, so it's tolerable, even for me. Heh.

Michelle Duggar has been pregnant for 10 and a half years in her life, and she's only 39. On October 11, she gave birth to her 16th child, Johanna, to add to the big family (children aged 1-17, including two sets of twins). All children have names beginning with J, and even dad Jim Bob Duggar, who is a politician in Arkansas considering running for the Senate for the second time. Poor Mrs Duggar, the only non-J in the family.

The family website gives a clue to their daily life and their way of life. They run the family unit with a sort of group cooperative system -- older children are buddies to the younger ones and lead their "team" in household chores in their "jurisdiction". Individuals are assigned for cooking the big meals needed every day. Clothes are kept in one central family closet and doing laundry is an operation by itself. They also wear matching colors to make laundry easier and accessories are simple -- girls wear white socks and boys black. [**I resent that, cos I like black socks.**]

The current family home is 2,400 sq ft with 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2 washers and 3 dryers. They are building a new 7,000 sq ft home with a 2,000 sq ft living room and dorm rooms for the children. They will have a restaurant quality kitchen, activity rooms, and wait for this ... 10 bathrooms, 4 washers and 8 dryers.

All the children are home schooled, with Bible lessons taking up a larger portion of the curriculum in an ordinary school. Their day starts and ends with Bible reading. One of the links on their website is for, an organization for families "who eagerly accept their children as blessings from God, and eschew birth control, natural family planning and sterilization."

That? Or the parental Duggars are two very horny people. Oh I'm bad.

in all about people , in the news |

From booman tribune and progressive independent via boing boing

Boy am I glad I don’t live in Indiana. If this is real it’s a joke. The “lawmakers” there are drafting legislation that requires potential parents who want to become pregnant via assisted means such as IVF and sperm / egg donation to be married. Performing an unlawful artificial reproduction procedure is a criminal offense.

okay, that means unmarried people who conceive by means other than regular sex are criminals?

One of the readers commenting asks the interesting question: does that mean that the Virgin Mary and the Holy Spirit will be hauled up before the courts, cos the conception of Jesus was definitely “assisted” and definitely “by means other than sexual intercourse.” Mary may not have been given a choice in the matter, which bodes even worse for the

Imagine being handcuffed while still holding your turkey baster. LOL.

Here’s the original article

The Crime of “Unauthorized Reproduction
by Laura McPhee

Republican lawmakers are drafting new legislation that will make marriage a requirement for motherhood in the state of Indiana, including specific criminal penalties for unmarried women who do become pregnant “by means other than sexual intercourse.”

According to a draft of the recommended change in state law, every woman in Indiana seeking to become a mother through assisted reproduction therapy such as in vitro fertilization, sperm donation, and egg donation, must first file for a “petition for parentage” in their local county probate court.

Only women who are married will be considered for the “gestational certificate” that must be presented to any doctor who facilitates the pregnancy. Further, the “gestational certificate” will only be given to married couples that successfully complete the same screening process currently required by law of adoptive parents.

As it the draft of the new law reads now, an intended parent “who knowingly or willingly participates in an artificial reproduction procedure” without court approval, “commits unauthorized reproduction, a Class B misdemeanor.” The criminal charges will be the same for physicians who commit “unauthorized practice of artificial reproduction.”

The change in Indiana law to require marriage as a condition for motherhood and criminalizing “unauthorized reproduction” was introduced at a summer meeting of the Indiana General Assembly’s Health Finance Commission on September 29 and a final version of the bill will come up for a vote at the next meeting at the end of this month.

Republican Senator Patricia Miller is both the Health Finance Commission Chair and the sponsor of the bill. She believes the new law will protect children in the state of Indiana and make parenting laws more explicit.

According to Sen. Miller, the laws prohibiting surrogacy in the state of Indiana are currently too vague and unenforceable, and that is the purpose of the new legislation.

“But it’s not just surrogacy,” Miller told NUVO. ” The law is vague on all types of extraordinary types of infertility treatment, and we wanted to address that as well.”

“Ordinary treatment would be the mother’s egg and the father’s sperm. But now there are a lot of extraordinary thing s that raise issues of who has legal rights as parents,” she explained when asked what she considers “extraordinary” infertility treatment.

Sen. Miller believes the requirement of marriage for parenting is for the benefit of the children that result from infertility treatments.

“We did want to address the issue of whether or not the law should allow single people to be parents. Studies have shown that a child raised by both parents - a mother and a father - do better. So, we do want to have laws that protect the children,” she explained.

When asked specifically if she believes marriage should be a requirement for motherhood, and if that is part of the bill’s intention, Sen. Miller responded, “Yes. Yes, I do.”

ETA: Looks like the proposal was dropped. Still, it’s scary that it was out there at all.

in all about people |

I don’t know how many people live next doors. There seems to be more people than comfortable for an apartment that size. I’ve seen 5 adults and a baby. May be some of them are only visiting, I never hear the baby cry all the time. They put their laundry outside on the podium, funny thing is they like to walk about in their pajamas, it’s kinda ridiculous actually, cos it’s a public place.

Sometimes I run into them in the corridor, but there is never any greeting. Even if we get into the lift together there’s no acknowldegement.

One of the adult sons was leaving at the same time as me this morning. He kept muttering to himself all the say down, such a weird guy. Walked like he’s in a stumbly sort of hurry too. I was waiting for the bus and I got on the next one. Didn’t notice him at the bus stop … turns out he’d walked to the next one along … weird.

He was in work clothes, white shirt, dark pants but … gasp … white socks and black shoes. Argh!

in all about people |

I was on the bus today and people’s cellphones were ringing constantly.

This elderly-ish man answered his phone and talked so loudly the whole bus could hear him. We could only hear his side of the conversatin: “Yes, on the bus.” “On the bus” “No. 10.” “Yes No. 10.” “No. 10 bus.” who is he talking to? A dumbo?

Then this young man who is meeting his girlfriend, she is at the bus stop waiting for the bus to arrive. “Almost there.” “Just round the corner.” When we were at least 5 blocks away.

Another woman organising a school reunion. “How many? Two large and two small, ok.” “Did you graduate in 1977?” “Do you know xxx?” “I said 1977, didn’t you hear?”

Oh the conversations, so funny.

in all about people |

mm’s Mum’s old school had a reunion dinner tonight, and we were invited. Neither of us went to that school so I kinda felt like someone who crashed the party. A genteel, good humoured, borderline serious party, but someone else’s all the same.

As usual, it started late. Boy am I glad I had some tea at work. Food was … okay, just about. Service was atrocious, the waiter was simply clueless. Every time we wanted drinks we had to ask a couple of times for them to refill. C’mon people, it’s just orange juice!

There were some speeches and programs and recitals on stage, most have more meaning if you actually went to that school. But the primary school play was fun.

Then one of the most famous old students went up and sang for a while. She’s really good, one of the older generation of performance artists who have actual talent.

Was late by the time we got home. I wanted to post something, her computer/connection were having a “who’s slower” competition and it took me 2 hours to do something that normally takes half an hour.

in all about people |

I left the office at 3pm already, although no official announcement. No one was around to say otherwise, so I thought, sod it.

Got home and picked up all the stuff I need to get then got a taxi to her place -- too many bags. Had the luck to find a driver who thought tailgating was the normal way to drive. Just great.

Anyway we were having friends over at her place, she was feeling really terrible, headache and beginnings of flu. So I did most of the cooking. Made nachos, toasted french bread with mushroom topping, grilled some steak and ordered KFC chicken wings. Made apple crumble and custard too, not too shabby.

Friends brought wine and conversation. These are people we've known for more than 10 years now, since college. Everyone's moved on, changed, gotten married, had kids, achieved different degrees of success. But they're the same people we knew when we were young, and the history means we'll always have something in common and be interested in each others' lives.

Cheered in the New Year. Didn't make any resolutions. The funniest scene for me was just after midnight, when everyone was standing around in her living room, with their cellphones either calling people, or texting, or sending ringtones to each other. Sign of the times.

in all about people |

I no longer feel the need to apologise, in fact from this moment on I shall shout out my pride at being a long term Mac user even more loudly than before. Don't forget, I'm the person who once said, when asked if I have a PC emulator on my Powerbook, "eek I don't want to dirty my Mac."

At the end of a thoroughly wretched week of tragedy, when the death rate tonight stands at 87,000 and rising. Go to the homepages of apple and microsoft and see the difference. Apple has no apple products on their main page, just links to the aid agency sites. Contrast, where there is no mention of the earthquake and tsunami disaster, of what they are doing up there in Redmond.

Even amazon has enabled 1-Click for donations to Red Cross. Why am I such an apple geek? Need I say more? 301204 301204 301204

in all about people |

mm's building is having a food drive for charity — they are collecting non-perishable food items, canned, dried, noodles, all sorts, and giving them to the needy. Somehow it feels better than donating money, I don't know anyone working in the non profit sector, so I can't tell which is better. We used to have similar food drives every Christmas at school, and we used to visit the pensioners at home too.

It's such a pity how being charitable has taken such a backseat role in modern day life. It's enough coping with politics and deadlines and traffic that we really do need to take a step back and ponder, what are we doing?

We went to 7.15am mass yesterday in remembrance of her sis. Yes we had to get up at the crack of dawn. But yes it was totally worth it, there was no question ever.

But what about all those other people who were there? They seemed to be there every morning, at least every time we go to this mass. They get up at the crack of dawn. They are the good sheep, the good Catholics. Why can't I? Her mum asked which church I go to and I had to embarrassedly answer I don't go. I wish I'd go more often, but I know for a certainty that this is all just talk.

Sometimes I wish I could chuck it all in and go work for a charity for a few months, kinda like the vso or msf. But I'm not sure if I'm tuff enuff to survive in those living conditions. Wishful thinking, again.

in all about people |

From the Independent.

Hedonism: Pursuit of or devotion to pleasure; the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the sole or chief good in life.

In his new book The Hedonism Handbook: Mastering the Lost Arts of Leisure, author Michael Flocker says that the modern human has become so overworked, so boring, that they've lost the ability to find their own fun, that they need instructions to how to have fun.

"The world is a stressed-out place. [People] are all afraid they're going to miss something. They work 12-hour days, then they work out on treatmills. Their whole rationale goes like this: if I lose 10 pounds, I'll be happy. If I have $100,000 more I'll be happy. And it doesn't work."

There has been a movement for people to gradually reassess what is important in their lives. Working insane hours, only to go home to sit in front of the TV with chips all over the belly is not fun, though that's what most people know as fun nowadays.

Going on a binge Friday night, paying through the nose for cover charge then getting totally boozed, drugged and sexed out, is that really fun? Or merely what people think fun should be? If that is fun, then why have surveys showed that there hasn't been any rise in happiness in the past 30 years.

Cultivate true pleasure. Oh yes. So how.

First step, turn off the phone, the blackberry, the email, all the communications that we're a slave to nowadays. Then deschedule the day, relax, eat slow.

What? I can preach as well as the next person. But I do ignore my phone and I find my own fun. I'd like to think I'm a better hedonist than the rest.

in all about people |

The guards at my building are ever so helpful. I come back from my trip with loads of luggage and the newest one helped me carry it up 2 sets of lifts and to my doorstep. I feel so embarassed, thinking, do I need to tip him?

I thank him profusely of course, but he then said, it's alright there's nothing much else to do, it gets boring. So I'm helping relieve his boredom.

I guess that's right. There are always 2 of them at the front desk and all they do are open doors and go patrolling. Waiting for something, anything, to happen.

The lifeguards are even worst, they sit by the pool all day but have to stay alert. Most times the pool's empty. They clean, hose, move the chairs about. Now that opening hours have been extended to 7am till 10pm I feel even more sorry for them.

in all about people | | comments (1)

This from reuters.

Over 12 years old but still like to be held? Or hugged, touched, stroked, caressed, piled atop on, reclined across, nuzzled, and affectionately massaged? Try a cuddle party.

Cuddle Parties are “a place to begin exploring and reclaiming the sense of affectionate touch and play we naturally displayed and enjoyed as children, and that we need to be happy, healthy adults.”

Ever since they started in NY in February, hundreds of people since then have paid $30 to participate. According to the organizers, affectionate touch is necessary for healthy immune systems, good mental health, and the development of our brains and nervous systems. It can reduce stress levels and help sick or injured people to heal.

Before any cuddling occurs, participants gather in a circle to hear the rules and voice any questions or concerns. Rules are absolute and essential:

  1. Pajamas stay on the whole time.
  2. No SEX.
  3. Ask for permission to kiss or nuzzle anyone. Make sure you can handle getting a no before you invite or request anyone to cuddle or kiss.
  4. If you're a yes, say yes. If you're a no, say no.
  5. If you're a maybe, say NO.
  6. You are encouraged to change your mind from a yes to a no, no to a yes anytime you want.
  8. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
  9. If you're in a relationship, communicate and set your boundaries and agreements BEFORE you go to the Cuddle Party. Don't re-negotiate those agreements/boundaries during the Cuddle Party. (Trust us on this one.)
  10. Get your Cuddle Life Guard On Duty or Cuddle Caddy if there's a concern, problem, or question or should you feel unsafe or need assistance with anything during the Cuddle Party.
  11. Crying and giggling are both welcomed and encouraged.
  12. Outside of your personal relationships, it's nobody's business who you cuddle, so please be respectful of other people's privacy when sharing with the outside world about Cuddle Parties.
  13. Arrive on time.
  14. Be hygienically savvy.
  15. Clean up after yourself.
  16. Always say thank you and practice good Cuddle Manners.

There are “Cuddle Lifeguards” who are responsible for ensuring the integrity of the room, meaning that no sex happens, that everyone feels safe, and that the sexual energy, when it shows up, is dispersed safely.

The overwhelming message is, cuddle parties are not about sex. It's expressing, and receiving, affection through touch that has no hidden agenda. That it's okay to want to be touched and comforted without having to worry about what it can lead to. First base does not need to lead to second base.

If during the course of a cuddle party, some people connect, find out they have lots in common, go on a date and things develop, that's fine. But it's not the purpose of a cuddle party.

The cuddleparty website has “cuddlemonials” with glowing testimonials from people who have been to cuddle parties. About how they reduce stress, and help people express their feelings.

Hmmm. Hug please.

in all about people |

May be I should create a new category called "I hate people". What bugged me today was the lack of common decency of people. Like they have tunnel vision, and all they see and care about are themselves. Simple stuff, really. But why can't they show just a modicum of effort and consideration. Like:

  • Drivers who don't give way to buses.
  • Drivers who would rather swerve to the opposite side of the road than give way to a bus leaving the stop.
  • People who don't line up.
  • People who stand too close, way too close.
  • People who sit so close to you there are body parts and clothing that touch. And if they sit down after you they don't move away and you squirm but you're sitting next to the window and you rapidly run out of space and they're still touching you.
  • People who don't let others off before they get on.
  • People who don't give up their seats to the needy.

This is just from riding on the bus.

in all about people , my inner science geek , techtalk |

Within my circle of friends, colleagues and family, I have the tech skills of a god. Like I don't know anyone who has a website, runs a weblog, or knows their way round (albeit in a really beginner's way) status symbols like photoshop.

But talking to more technically inclined people makes me realize how pathetically basic my so called skills are. It's good to be humble.

Another expectation is I can solve all their problems. Man, don't they know I'm know nothing about support, hardware, connections and most importantly, I don't touch PCs with a 40 foot pole. This means start talking about Windows and I'm gonna blow a gasket. Unfortunately I know a bit about MS Office cos I have to use it at work, but no, I don't use it at home.

So yeah, they think I know, but I'm just pretending.

So I studied chemistry and I get questions about the side effects of drugs, or how to make a bomb from fertilizer. Like, dude, if you trust a chemistry grad to tell you all about these things? mm took computer science and she's the first to admit she's totally lost the knowledge. Yeah, considering she switched as soon as she graduated.

I'm just glad I don't get asked about repairing elevators and stuff like that.

in all about people |

This guy next doors in IT has great hair. And no, it's not in my nature to notice guys but I started noticing how neat and effortless this guy's hair is. Considering a few desks over this other guy has a permadome of greasy slicked-back hair that gives me total wiggins. My boss has great hair, but that's because a lot of effort has been put into making it look effortless.

My colleague came in with red highlights today, a change from the usual blonde hightlights. It's okay, but looks exactly like what it is - artificial highlights. Most people in the office have dark hair, some have highlights - the aforementioned blonde and red but also blue or orange tinges. I remember playing around with hair mascara a few years ago, to paint a few strays of hair purple or gold or blood red. It lasted a day or two, I couldn't even be a proper rebel.

I haven't had long hair since, well since never. This one time when I was a teenager my Mom took me to have it permed and it turned out to be a disaster and I was so angry at her. She kept at my hair for years and years, every time I'd have a haircut she'd say something like why do I cut it so short.

My hair.
My choice.
Isn't it?

Which part of choice do people not understand?

in all about people |

Sooner or later you get to recognize a few fellow passengers, people who get on the same bus as you every morning. The young man with the designer beard and fancy jeans with his wife/girlfriend in a normal business suit. The tall lady with blonde hair in a bob. The Asian guy who lives in the next building, who you feel a certain kinship with because he has an iPod. The sporty girl who gets off at the stop opposite the YMCA, she has the air of a trainer. Who are these strangers? What makes them tick? What are they like outside of the work clothes you see them in?

Why do you want to know?

I don't. I don't have any interest in these people on an individual basis. I don't know them, they don't know me and I don't want that to change. Their purpose is to become random samples, of what individual can be like. To exercise the imagination. To make them less faceless.

Why do you want to know?

Stop thinking about individuals for a minute and think of people in general.ran

What they think about.
It is said that humans only use 10% of their brain. One in five of the population have thought seriously about suicide. Males on average thinks about sex every 7 seconds.

What makes them different. What makes them similar.
More people use a blue toothbrush than any other color. One in ten is gay. Over 80% of are right-handed.

What are their dreams.
Most people dream about 5 times during each 8-hour period of sleep, meaning they have about 1,825 dreams every year. Smells and tastes are experienced in approximately 1% of all dreams.

What are their fears.
The 3 most common fears are: snakes, heights and flying. Pteronophobia is the irrational fear of feathers; linonophobia is the irrational fear of string; nephophobia is the irrational fear of clouds.

Why do you want to know?

In a sea of faces, how is it possible to find the one you're looking for?

in all about people |

Company annual dinner tonight, I'm on the organising committee. So I get to leave the office earlier and get there to help set things up. Game stalls, food stations, lucky draws, table prizes.

If it weren't for the fact that I'm in the committee I wouldn't even attend. I feel better at being an organiser so I can be running around than sitting at the table trying to make small talk with people I have little in common other than work.

How many people are friends with their co-workers anyway? Actually, quite a few. After all, we spend a hell of a lot of time with them.

Don't get me wrong. I like my co-workers. Well, most of them. But it's not like I'm gonna tell them my deepest darkest secrets right? I'll go as far as joking and being friendly, that's my limit.

in all about people |

Another old friend got married, one of the last of us. It's funny to sit with a bunch of people who've known each other since college and reminisce. And instead of conversations about professors and exams it's about getting kids into the right school and the housing market. But it's heartening to see that none of us have changed, even though we only get together at weddings and such like nowadays it's so easy to get back into the swing and it's like the years in between just peel away and we're like kids again.

in all about people |

My company decided to change accountant firms and to ask the new firm to provide someone to be based onsite at our office. The director of the new firm told us that he planned to have his wife as the onsite resource.

I can't describe how that totally wigged me out. In an industry that relies on impartiality, to have someone reporting to his/her spouse is pretty unethical. Of course there are many industries where it doesn't matter, but where one has to audit the other's work; where confidentiality plays such an important role and where it is necessary to be whiter than white professionally, it triggers all sorts of alarm bells in my mind.

I told mm and she told me about this lawyer who didn't know what fiduciary duty was. Fiduciary duty is the obligation to act in the best interest of the other party. Lawyers, the fiduciary, must use their discretion and expertise in acting for the client who has placed trust and confidence in them.

I said of course it's common sense ethics and she was saying it's more than that, it's the law. I countered that to me, ethics has higher authority than the law. She agreed but said that there are no written areas of ethics therefore it's much harder to uphold. She's right, and that got me thinking that it's a shame how people can operate in this world without ethics and morals.

At that point we reached the restaurant we were heading for and the talk changed to more mundane matters like food.