End of The Year Spo-Meme

>> Friday, December 31, 2010

It's the end of the year and I usually recount the year by showing pictures of food I made and this year is not that different but on top of that I thought I'd borrow my blog friend Ur-Spo's Meme, so we can pass it around.

2010 Accomplishment
The biggest accomplishment this year is probably completing the 10-day master cleanse diet with my boyfriend. In those 10-days, we didn't eat anything and all we took for nutrition was lemonade made with maple syrup. I think I lost 15 pounds.

2010 Discovery
Other than discovered that I can stay alive and have the will to not eat for 10 days? The boyfriend and I had discovered an Indian eggplant relish called Brinjal and we have been putting it in practically everything, I have also used it to make lamb stew, taste pretty good.

Favorite 2010 Vacation/Holiday
Since I was unemployed for the longest time, it was like a prolonged vacation.

Best dining in 2010
In February, I visited Jean Georges in New York and I had to say, the prix fixe lunch for one of the best meal I had for a low, low price.

2010 Regret
I'm going through a rather tough period right now with a job that I don't particularly enjoy and my boss just changed my schedule to 4:30 am to 2:00pm for 6 days a week, it means I have to go to bed around 7pm to get up at 3am. It practically wipe off all my social life. Even though it's tough, it's something that I have to do to earn a living, while I can't regret having this job. I must confess that I was a bit lazy and scared to look for a job in the beginning of the year.

Magic Moment in 2010
I don't know. I think one night out at the Night Market event with lots of food vendors on the street and tons of people gathering was very neat. It was good to be able to walk around with the boyfriend at night around the neighborhood as well.

What states did you visit in 2010?
I didn't go too far this year, just Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York.

The 2010 Surprise
That I can rely on my boyfriend and my friends in the time of need. I feel fortunate and blessed.

Three 2011 Goals
1. Get a job that is more reasonable with a better pay, better benefits and a better future.

2. Get into a better financial situation.

3. Enjoy life to the fullest with my love and my friends.

And this is the stuff I've made this past year:

Turtle Burgers

Chocolate Cupcakes with mini cherry pies baked in and a chocolate chip cookie on top.

My first fondant cake and my first adult themed cake for a friend's birthday.

A tiny, tiny birthday cake for my boyfriend's birthday but he was so drunk that he didn't even remember eating it.

Remaking Magnolia Bakery's Banana Bread Pudding

Homemade Siu Mai

36 layers of crepe and orange creams to make up a fluffy cake.


Can I Help You, Sir?

>> Sunday, December 26, 2010

I'm one of the 99ers that you've heard about, in the beginning of last month my unemployment compensation has ran out and since the economy wasn't picking up, the check that I get from the government is actually a lot higher than any job I can find out there, not to mention it's a lot easier just to process a claim form than actually got through the motion of finding a job and working, so why not just sit on my ass?

And of course I have been looking for work. It's just the longer I sit out, the less confident I am with my skills so it gets harder and harder. I was doing a three day project with a placement office that was only interested in me then and there. Went through a few interview and a training day with Macy's who wanted me to sell women's shoes for minimum wage. I almost gone through with it too, if it's not for a friend who recommended me to be a Manager in Training for a fast food/coffee shop chain. It doesn't pay much more, but unlike Macy's they want me to work more than 35 hours which is a salary that I can almost live by. The drawback about it is that I'm required to work more than 55 hours and 6 days a week to justify the salary they are giving me, which is still a chunk less than my unemployment checks but as the Chinese proverb goes "When your horse dies, you've got to walk on your own", so here's me trying to walk/crawl.

Since the day that I interviewed with the manager/trainer, she had informed me that I would be dealing with a lot of undereducated people, both costumers and employees alike. And since I don't have any retail experience, she intended to start me from the ground up. From day to day, I'm in charge of fixing coffees, restocking, displaying products, cleaning, mopping, washing. I also have to be on my feet for 10+ hours a day, I have been quite out of shape, so I'm just not used to this kind of physical activities. Waking up at 4:30 in the morning to go to work also means that at night I'll being falling asleep around 8:30-9:30. I find that it's not something that I can help, around that time my eyes will automatically close on their own and even though I might be watch TV or reading blogs, my focus is gone and I will need to be in bed or I'll zonked out sitting up.

The people are a colorful bunch as well. The store I work at is at a "bad part" of town, some might even call it the ghetto. The people I work with are mostly Asian who speak little English with one white college kid, a few teenage mom, a black guy and another mom who works two jobs. Most of them are nice but have some sort of attitude problems. The customers are mostly blacks who are either meek or seriously unhappy to start with, knowing that the customer is always right, my only self-defense is with being overtly courteous. I feel like I'm from the south. With any single transaction, I'm dishing out 4~5 "sir"s/"maam"s and a couple "thank you"s. Anything that can be perceived to be wrong, people will start yelling, screaming and asking for compensations.

Our daily usual customers include a group of about a dozen people who are drug users, ringlead by a guy with muscular dystrophy riding in a powered wheelchair which rides like a tank. He's a pretty good looking black guy with a cropped beard. One time, I got off the same bus as him and had to run to the shop because I was going to be a few minutes late and that wheelchair outran me, so I'm pretty sure he'll be able to outrun any cops. To interact with these drug users are a fun part of the day, all of them order either white chocolate with whip cream filled all the way like a frozen yogurt but the thing is that they are not really coherent like they are drunk or something like a bunch of zombies. They all seat at the same corner furthest from anyone and occasionally we'll see someone flashing some cash, which our manager will come out and tell them not to or she'll call the cops. On the sly though, my manager knows that the store somehow became one of their camps and they are paying customers, so there's nothing much she can do.

Last Monday, I needed to attend a orientation session with the local franchisee's headquarter which I was surprised to find out that the whole management is composed with all Cantonese-speaking Chinese. The trainer herself is a Cantonese speaker who spoke English better than mine, the CFO is a Chinese guy, so is a gaggle of office ladies in their cubicles, the only non-Cantonese person is a black receptionist named Leisha. The training session with about 30 people of different races happens in a large meeting room where along one of the walls lined pictures of their 34 branches and under each of these pictures was a small plague with the name of the person managing each of these stores. I scanned through the names of these people since one of them is my friend and the other is the store I currently working at, of these 34 people, 33 of them were Asian and later through my friend, I found out that the other is white. Also 33 of them were female. I'm sure the owner has some control issues and I can't help but wonder what were the thoughts in my fellow colleagues head when they found out that they will never become managers.

So that's my life right now, Wake up before the cocks crow, go to work, come back and go groceries shopping, cook, eat, watch and hour or two of TV and go back to sleep. I just finished a 12-day shift without rest and rest up on X'mas. I've gained a brand new perspective and a deep appreciation of the ways of people with low income. Instead odf settling for this or actually become a branch manager, I have to believe that there's a light at the end of the tunnel. With my persistent on job applications, I have received 4 phone interviews so far and I'm expecting to hear back from a few of them after New Year's. Maybe I'll have to go on a few more, face-to-face interviews to secure them, hopefully I'll get a new job come January or February. As much as I'm trying to be a good coffee seller, my hands are breaking up from touching too sanitizers all the time and my feet aches and throbs every night. The trick now is to be able to take off a day or two to go on interviews without raising suspicions. Wish me luck.


Merry Christmas

>> Saturday, December 25, 2010

Since I started my barista job three weeks ago, I have been working non-stop and don't have time for nearly anything else. I didn't even send my family and friends any X'mas cards like I do every year, so I hereby wish you all a merry X'mas and a very happy holidays.


Cartoon Abuse

>> Monday, December 06, 2010

There's a new meme on Facebook urging people to change their profile picture to a childhood cartoon in hopes to fight child abuse. I saw a friend doing so and invited all his friends to do the same and I'm not too sure how it could possibly help but I did it anyway because it's fun to show others what had defined my childhood and this meme seemed to be a good excuse to do so.

A more realistic friend has posted an entry saying how naive people must be to think that by changing their profile picture, something so ingrained would somehow be magically affected or changed. His post include a link to a sarcastic blogpost at Gawker, while one of his friends wrote how she was abused when she was a kid and 1)She doesn't want to be reminded of that; 2)She finds the use of cartoon character trivialize something as serious as child abuse; and 3)If people really wants to help, they should donate to charity where people do actual work to prevent the abuse.

This sparks a huge discussion in the comments section with one side discrediting its effectiveness and how insensitive it is and the other side saying that it does at least sparks up awareness and conversation to a tabooed subject. I can see that the points made from both sides are valid but I don't see nothing wrong to have some naivete or changing the picture just for fun. Facebook is trivial anyway, it makes no sense to take anything on it too seriously.

Anyway, these are some of the cartoons that I grew up watching and loved:

Ikkyu-san (1975)

Ikkyu was the bastard child of a Japanese royalty who got sent to the temple to be a monk. Ikkyu was extremely smart and help people to solve their problems by sitting in a lotus position, licking his fingers and drawing circles on his bald head and meditate about the problem. He is the first one who taught me if you give a person a dollar and double everyday for a month, you'd be broke. It's quite the educational program for a kid.

The Smurfs (1981)

While I was living in Paris, I was alone a lot since my mom needs to work in order to support the both of us. I remember going to the giant supermarket a few blocks from our apartment and just sit in the middle of the aisle reading copies after copies of Smurfs. I also remember wearing PJs and going to school by myself but that's another story.

Inspector Gadget (1983)

Another companion of mine during my alone time. I think Inspector Gadget is the French version of Doraemon and near the end of each episode, I somehow always expect to find out how Dr. Claw actually looks like.

Ninja Hattori-kun (1981)

It's a cartoon about good ninjas versus bad ninjas. They introduce ninja tricks like they're magic and it was quite exciting for a 6 years old.

Gegege No Kitaro (1985)

It's a surprisingly dark cartoon for kids. The main character is a monster himself and his father is his own eyeball. Every week they go out to hunt down Japanese monsters that is harming people in one way or another, like ghost busters but Japanese. I was obsessed with this cartoon, in fact I'd still love to watch it all over again but it wasn't really published as a box set and even if it is, it probably won't have the English or Chinese subtitle, it'd be quite expensive and I doubt I'd love the quality of it.

I usually would use some characters of this cartoon as my iPod wallpaper because I thought the Sand Grandma character looks exactly like my own Grandma, which the boyfriend absolutely loathe because he thinks the cartoon grandma looks ugly and he just don't believe anyone could look that way. I don't find her ugly though. Haha.

Kimagure Orange Road (1987)

Another Japanese Anime that I love. It's about a love triangle with two bad girls and a guy with ESP. It's pretty much like a soap opera with high school teenagers. The girls belong to a school gang and they are trying to be good while a family of ESPer had just moved into town after being chased away for being special. The male character Kyosuke was forbidden to you his powers in public by his father for fear that their covers will get blown and they'll have to move again, but the main draw of this cartoon is the long haired Madoka who has a bunch of stylized fan art. She's like the most beautifully drawn female character of all time. Even as a gay man, I can't help but fall in love. Also the show has great upbeat music with her voice actress singing hypnotic songs. It was quite the memorable show for me.

Mr. Ajikko (1987)

Mr. Ajikko could be arguably the cartoon that has affected me the most. It is the show that inspired Iron Chef. This show is about a cooking genius holding up his family's diner after his dad had passed away. At the start of the show, his talent was quickly discovered by "The Chairman" who's daily work is to rate restaurants like the Zagats. The success of a chef hangs at his every word. Mr. Ajikko constantly have to get into cooking battles with random people to keep the diner survive or teach some moral lessons. It's a very creative and educational show that's worth watching. It's also over the top with light shining out of people's mouth and exaggerated exclamation of deliciousness. It taught me a few things about cooking.

Of course there are tons of other cartoons like Thunder Cats that helped shaped my childhood and it's impossible to list them all but he's a short list. What's yours?


I just got a very demanding job at a coffee shop that will require me to be there 60 hours a week, I might not have time or be too tired to blog. So excuse me if the postings are a bit sparse. I'm hoping to get an office job soon to be able to have a relatively normal life, wish me luck.


Sunday Meme: Questions a la Randomness Meme

>> Saturday, December 04, 2010

This week I attended a long ass training session at a retail company. 8 hours sitting in front of a computer non-stop going through orientation and company policies and stuff. It was hella boring, although I did learn a few things that I didn't know before.

If you bought something in full price and that same thing goes on sale within 10 days, you can actually get the difference back if you bring the item and the receipt back. If you don't have a receipt and take the item back to return it, you'll actually be able to get back store credit, but the amount would be the lowest in the past 180 days. Though there has to be a tag somewhere. Also I learned how to use a register.

This week's Meme comes from Sunday Stealing again. Have a good weekend!

What was the last thing you put in your mouth?
I went to my Holy Land Mitsuwa in Edgewater, NJ and got back a bunch of Japanese snacks, curry flavored crackers, chocolates, red bean/green tea buns, various rice crackers and choco flakes, chocolate coated corn flakes that goes good on ice cream sundaes, corn flakes coated french toast and any imaginable desserts. I also got bag in caramel flavor.

How late did you stay up last night and why?
Til 3 o'clock because I was watching TV, going online and reading the latest Rizzoli & Isles novel.

If you could move somewhere else, would you?
Maybe, depends on where and who with.

Have you ever been kissed under fireworks?
I don't remember when's the last time I went out to look at fireworks, it'd probably be when I was still in high school, so probably not.

Do you believe ex’s can be friends?
Depends on how you end things, some of my ex's and I had become friends.

When was the last time you cried really hard?
I don't remember. Honest to god!

What items could you not go without during the day?
It's a computer. I found out that I can go without my cell phone or my ipod.

Who was the last person you visited in the hospital?
My friend Eriko when she had her second kid. Honestly I really hate going to the hospital, I guess there are some childhood trauma somewhere.

How do you feel about your life right now?
Not too great, but it's slowly looking upwards. I have hope.

If we were to look in your facebook inbox, what would we find?
A recent correspondent with my cousin overseas, she's mailing me something, though I don't what.

Say you were given a drug test right now, would you pass?
Oh yes, unless chocolate is a drug, and it is!

Has anyone ever called you perfect before?
Somebody did, but it has been a long time before I've heard it.

Someone knocks on your window at 2:00 a.m.: who do you want it to be?
A ghost since I live on the second floor looking out on a deserted alley.

Do you think too much or too little?
Too much.

Do you believe in fairy tales?
Not really, but I do believe in happy endings.

Have you ever licked the back of a CD to try to get it to work?
Yes. Maybe not licked but huffing on it.

What’s the largest age difference between yourself and someone you’ve dated?
26 years.

Have you ever been on a blind date?

Do you have any friends that you’ve known for 10 years or more?
Definitely, though most of them are in Hong Kong.

Have you ever had a crush on a teacher?
Oh yes, I was probably 12 and I creeped out a handsome PE teacher.

What song do you want played at your funeral?
Ave Maria

Would you tell your parents if you were gay?
No. Since my parents are gone and my remaining family members are far away, I didn't think I need to concern them.

What would your last meal be before getting executed?
I would love some shanghainese food, especially the rice dumpling and a fried tofu noodle soup.

Do you walk around the house naked?
Yes, all the time.

What do you do as soon as you walk in the house?
Take off my clothes, duh.

Who is the person you can count on the most?
My boyfriend, I think. I mean, he should be, right? lol.

What is your favorite Holiday?
Usually it's X'mas but I think Halloween is creeping up to the top spot these past years.

Would you ever get plastic surgery?
A friend who works in the hospital just told me that cosmetic surgery is free for her and her colleagues. I imagine if I work there I could do so... many things. Liposuction and maybe a rhinoplasty to start.

Have you ever caught a fish?
Yes, I've gone fishing a couple times. One time at a lake, I got a couple catfish.

What is the first thing you notice about people?
Attitude. Isn't it strange?

What is the farthest you’ve been from home?
Depends on how you define home. I've been halfway across the world and I'm still away from my first home.

How did you meet your spouse or significant other (or most recent one)?
Online and then at a bar. Modern day romance are mostly conceived online, right?

Where was the last place you drove (other than home/school/work)?
Since I've only drove a few times in my life, I'd say it's about an hour north of here.


Tax Cut Vs Tax Hike

>> Thursday, December 02, 2010

While the Republicans are calling it a tax hike, it actually is a tax cut that is expiring. I do admire how they can twist a fact every time and make all their members spread it naturally. These PR sound bites are produced fast and on point with no one calling them out like the liars that they are. Instead of being investigative, the news media pretty much turned into a passive reactionary useless soundboard, which is a shame.

The rich wants Bush's Tax Cut For The Rich (a term that needs to be repeated again and again) to remain intact, and so the Rich donates to politicians to make that happen. Since Obama is in power and he stated that he would let the cut expire on its own, the Democrats will not blatantly contradict their own leader, so it's left for the Republicans to come out with trickle down theories or "raising tax for someone is raising it for everyone" or Obama is Hitler to rally for the cause. No one would want to associate their own name with a tax hike, except perhaps this guy:

I guess since the guy is an Independent and doesn't belong to any party, he can feel free to say whatever he likes. Maybe Independents don't get much corporate donations? Whatever the case, I'm glad someone came out to point to the obvious. We are in somewhat of a recession with an unemployment rate of 10%, how do you convince folks that the rich really needed that tax cut? By invoking the general bad feelings of an administration headed by a black guy? By invoking camaraderie between castes that was never really there in the first place? Or by creating a fantasy that the poor will somehow benefit from the tax cut as well?

Here's Sarah Palin trying her bat at option 1, clearly trying to associate the tax hike to the big scary ObamaCare. Why reinvent the wheels when it worked so well last time? I'm still baffled on how this woman become the Right's go to person on knowledge when all she offers are nonfactual soundbites like thinking that the action of Wikileaks can be considered as treason. The woman is nothing but a female wannabe version of W. at best.

Giving rich people money and wait for it to trickle down is no different than giving poor people money and wait for it to trickle up. No matter who you're giving money to, they will eventually spend it and it will stimulate the economy. The only different is that rich folks buy big items and their money will end up benefiting Europe and poor folks buy small mass manufactured items and their money will likely end up benefiting Asia. The problem is that US doesn't manufacture much anymore, the best we can do is to give the money to middle class who's most likely to purchase local products and services. And no, not many people get to the top 1% income bracket overnight, so it's still hard for me to understand why people would follow the thinking process of benefiting from the tax cut when we get rich. It just doesn't happen like that.

However, I am stumped when a guy in the forum (presumably rich) asked why he needs to pay so much more amount-wise to get the same crappy services that everyone else is getting and I sometimes wonder the same on gay people not getting the same rights and paying for things like school tax that may not benefit us at all. I would assume, though, that rich people have a lot more at stake, so I don't think it'll help anyone to see the country's economy goes down the drain and if the whole country does so poorly that all the local industries can easily be bought up by foreign countries, that wouldn't do anyone any favors either. On top of it, bad economy usually translate to a higher crime rate and the rich are far bigger targets than anyone else.

One unsettling rumor is that the Democrats are trying to used the remainder of the year to pass a few important legislation during the upcoming lame duck session and the GOP sworn to block every bill until the Tax Cut For The Rich is extended. Democrats might cave into their demands just to get bills including the DREAM Act passed. First, even those bills might be important, are they really worth the trade off on a solution that can reduce the national deficit? I'm not into negotiating with hijackers and terrorists alike. I much rather the American people suffer through two years of seeing Republicans blocking every proposal passing through congress, at least then they might see how destructive they can be and Obama might still have a chance in 2012. Though if the tax cut really get extended as a trade off, I'm sure some Democrats who receive big donations can give a sigh of relief while still blame the Republicans for being corrupt in the same breath.


Days of Our Huh?

>> Wednesday, December 01, 2010

I nearly choked on spit laughing uncontrollably watching Stephen Colbert last night because of his report on a new TV trend on the old show Days of Our Lives. I guess product placement has grown out of its shy phase and now it's full on and blatant.

No longer is the product just sitting in a corner quietly facing the camera, now it has to be a bit in the show; an awkward excerpt that stands out so much that it's almost comedic.

Wanchai Ferry? Really? I personally love the episode where George drove over the cliff in his Jaguar and got amnesia (while the car is pristine and unharmed) and had to rely on the nutrients of V8 juice to gain back his memory. That episode was epic.

I guess soap operas had to find a way to survive, though I'm pretty sure with these awkward scenes, it's more likely that they will lose viewership than to gain new ones.


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