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Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

Subject:This is the most private public place on the Internet for me...
Time:9:31 pm.
Mood: sad.
My semi-annual visits to LiveJournal have become more like biennial now.  All my "livejournal friends" are gone, no updates in years.  A few I found and connected with in the trendy network of the moment, but I wax nostalgic for the good old days as I walk through this ghost town.  And I never thought I would post here again, but what I wanted to get off my chest just belongs here.  Definitely not Facebook, and I thought about anonymously on reddit, but no, not there either. It just feels right here even if no one reads it.


I find myself feeling incredibly sad moving out of the first home my wife and I bought almost a decade ago, where our kids were born and lived for the first 6 years of their lives.  We are moving to a slightly bigger house on a much bigger lot in a better neighborhood, with a bigger yard more conducive to playing.  Our old lot was all built out with narrow alleys and spaces and a garage that took up the entire back of the lot.  We had bought mainly for the nice interior layout and didn't give much thought to the yard space, but I realize now it just didn't give off a good vibe and so I never went outside much.  At the new place, the interior layout is still very nice and more spacious, but I also find myself going out to the yard a lot more and enjoying it.  Everything about the new place is objectively better, yet when I walk through the old place, I get very sad.

I never really grasped what the phrase "the walls speak to me" meant until now.  When I walk into my new home, my family is there and my kids are loud, but the walls are dead silent. The walls of the old home, however, speak volumes to me, even when all our belongings are gone and only an empty shell remains.  They tell me about me about the early days we moved in as an engaged couple and then newlyweds.  They tell me about the time we spent building a nursery and the pre-dawn trip to the hospital as labor commenced.  They speak to me about the day I first carried in twin newborns and the multitudes of nights I spent holding them as babies, infants and toddlers.  About the bad years I was in a depression over work matters. The home maintenance mishaps and the triumphs from my amateur garage woodshop. The joyous birthday and holiday celebrations held.

I know the new walls will start speaking to me with time, but the old walls are louder than I ever thought they could be and I am listening to everything they have to say as I ready the house for another family that my dear old friends will speak to down the road.
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Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

Time:9:45 pm.
Mood: nostalgic.
I still visit LJ semi-annually, just to see how those who are still around are doing.  Back in the days, I was mostly a lurker and a stalker, anti-social online, just like I am offline.  But you guys were fun and entertaining and had funny stories.  I visited LJ weekly, if not daily.  Even as twitter and facebook take the world by storm, they only allow a relatively shallow and vapid view of someone.  LJ is real; you guys are real.  Hi dilly and aleen.  Hi all2swift and philtrain.  Please say hi back, friend, lurker or stalker.  I'd like to hear from you.  See you in six months.

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Tuesday, March 22nd, 2005

Subject:Still lurking around
Time:10:37 pm.
Mood: good.
My last post was almost two years ago. But I haven't stopped reading all of you's journals, just had nothing of my own to say.

But since then, I've been at my job for more than 2 years now (longest I've ever stayed at one job) and got engaged (wedding in December). Looking for a house, but houses are so expensive, I can't afford even the dumpiest dump. I'm also looking for ways to be rid of a traditional 9 to 5 job, so I'm trying to enlist people's insights and wisdom at www.freefrom9to5.com.

For those who care, I'm well. For those who don't, have a nice day. =)
Comments: Add Your Own.

Sunday, July 27th, 2003

Time:1:21 pm.
Mood: busy.
I finally succumbed to friendster.com and signed up a few weeks ago. I tried looking up a some friends, but didn't find any, so I forgot about it. Then last week, someone found me and the thing exploded; I only have a few friends, but the personal network thing is over 100,000! So lately, I've just been clicking and clicking and clicking, finding some long lost friends and some surprising connections to current friends. And it is eerie how I am connected to so many people on LJ through real-life friends. And here I thought they were just random strangers whose journals I read.
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Sunday, May 11th, 2003

Time:6:32 pm.
Mood: weird.
people who don't wash their hands after using the bathroom should be branded. so you know not to shake their hands or handle anything they've touched. at work, i mentally brand them. i surreptitiously see who washes and who doesn't and file that information away in my brain. i had hoped i would never have to shake any non-washer's hand, but last week, my manager (who does wash his hands) introduced me to the project scheduler, a guy i branded two weeks into my job. but i was ready. i've been preparing for just this situation my entire professional life.

"mptempest, this is rick, our schedules guy."
"hi rick, nice to meet you. i'd shake your hand, but they're kinda wet because I JUST WASHED THEM."

disaster averted! well, that's what i said, but without that emphasis at the end. i wonder if he'd get it if i did emphasize that. as for people i don't have a file on (all women, for example), i just have to take my chances.
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Tuesday, April 15th, 2003

Time:9:17 pm.
Mood: mellow.
i was so bored at work today, i contemplated pulling the fire alarm. but i didn't want to get fired so i twiddled my thumbs instead for a few minutes, first one way, then the other. then i tried to take a nap sitting in my chair, back to my cubicle opening, but my head nodding threatened to give me away so i surfed the web some more, even though i used up my self-imposed daily web surfing limit. but i was afraid too much web surfing would get me fired, so i twiddled my thumbs some more and contemplated pulling the fire alarm again.
Comments: Add Your Own.

Sunday, October 27th, 2002

Time:7:33 pm.
Mood: nostalgic.
I went to college in New York. During my senior year, I was interviewing with 5-10 companies a week for months on end. My most memorable compliment came from an interviewer from California.

The interviewer was from a Southern Californian company. I sat down, free of nervousness since this was like my 103rd interview, and started chatting with the guy. Less then 5 minutes into the interview, he asked, "Are you from California?" I said, "Yes." He said, "I knew you must be from California or Hawaii because you're so laid-back and mellow."

We then proceeded to make fun of East Coast and Midwest people. =)
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Monday, August 5th, 2002

Time:7:45 pm.
What a sad, sad day for Los Angeles.

Chick Hearn, R.I.P.
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Sunday, July 7th, 2002

Time:7:01 pm.
Mood: irritated.
You all know from studying food groups in elementary school that you're suppose to eat 3 or 4 servings from the bread group (I forget which). I recently read that one serving of rice is about what will fit in half a tennis ball. Dude, if that's the case, then I'm eating 10-15 servings of rice a day! Not to mention the other bread group items, like cereal and, uh, bread. So add that to the rice and I'm getting 13-18 servings of bread group things a day! No wonder I'm not losing any of my flab. Carbohydrates are bad for flab right? And bread group things have carbohydrates right? And what's really unfair is that for vegetables, one serving is usually what will fit in a WHOLE tennis ball, rather than half. How F'ed-up is that?
Comments: Read 4 orAdd Your Own.

Sunday, June 2nd, 2002

Time:7:45 pm.
Mood: ecstatic.
"Sacramento can put their bells back on their cows." -Chick Hearn

No more Vlade flopping when someone breathes on him!
No more Doug Christie pointing to the sky like a damn idiot!
No more Chris Webber looking constipated
Comments: Read 2 orAdd Your Own.

Time:4:34 pm.
Mood: excited.
The NBA annoucers/analysts for nbc are SO annoying. Especially Bill Walton and Tim Tolbert. I think these 2 guys are bitter that they are past their prime and were never great players. Walton was OK, but Tolbert was a big nobody in his days. So they have to play themselves up while they are annoucing/analyzing the game now. As if anyone really cares what they think. You can feel the bitterness and longing through their words. And Jim Gray is also another annoying twerp. I heard he's pissed off coaches and teams before by sticking his nose all over the place in locker rooms. You know the NBA tells its players to be nice and talk to NBC people. If not for that, I'd think they'd get punched out by the players for being so damn annoying. Ahmad Rashad is cool though.

That's why I got my TV volume turned down and got the radio on, listening to Chick Hearn doing the play by play. Chick rocks.

Fock, Laker's first two shots are airballs. Not looking good.
Comments: Add Your Own.

Thursday, May 23rd, 2002

Subject:What's your form of escape?
Time:1:17 am.
Mood: melancholy.
My form of escape is not alcohol or drugs. It's not running or working out as I wouldn't mind it to be. My form of escape is reading. From the heroic espionage worlds of Clancy and Vince Flynn to the shadowy, machismo criminal settings of Robert Parker, I become a spy or PI for a moment, forgetting my woes. Then I am a powerful sorcerer in Eddings's fantasy worlds and a Wall Street power player in Frey's and Meltzer's high rolling corporate financial novels. And don't forget being an underdog lawyer in Grisham's works or even a child psychologist/detective in Kellerman's popular mystery stories.

My latest occupation is a wizard at Hogwarts, compliments of J.K. Rowlings. Along with Eddings, this is my favorite; there's something about magic and sorcery and the unexplainable wonders that come with it.

For the same reason, my favorite TV shows include Smallville and Charmed. Yes, I watch Charmed. Not just because of Allysa Milano and Rose McGowan, although that is reason enough, but because of the elements of witchcraft and magic. I really truly get into that stuff. It has gotten to the point where when a stupid driver cuts me off or otherwise annoys me, I cup my palm and swing my arm at the car, pretending to throw a fireball a la the demons on Charmed (An upper-level demon, to be exact, since fire throwing is an upper level power).
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Saturday, May 18th, 2002

Time:9:18 am.
Mood: aggravated.
Warning! Venting and ranting ahead!

University that I attend, let me count the ways I DESPISE thee:
1) Your propensity to nickel and dime students to death
2) Your exorbitant, usurious late fees ($100/week!)
3) Your TAs that can't speak English properly
4) Your pompous lazy professors
5) Your greed unbecoming for a supposedly non-profit educational institution
6) Your pompous administrative staff

The stories:

#1 and #2 go hand in hand. Besides the excessive late fees which were levied on me due to my carelessness, there are engineering access fees, graduate fees (whatever the heck these are), health center fees... it's just like that Washington Mutual bank commercial where the lady gets charged for every word she utters to the teller. "Emotional outburst fee... oooh, those can be steep." One more thing that pisses me off is that the engineering access fee is for use of their computer labs. Fine, except half the time I can't log on because they don't know how to run a network properly. If this continues, I'm gonna ask for a refund.

#3, TAs that can't speak English or speak with such a heavy accent that understanding them is next to impossible. I think this is a problem at every university so I won't elaborate my experiences. You'd think universities would require verbal communication skills for TA positions, but apparently not.

#4, The majority of the professors are cool and knowledgable. But it's those few rotten apples that really stick out and ruin things. This one professor employed fulltime elsewhere takes the cake for causing the most aggravation. The class he taught met once a week in the evening for 3 hours. A little longer than usual but tolerable. But this guy would cancel and postpone classes left and right. He's sick one week. Had to attend a conference in Japan the next. He had no regard for our schedules at all! Hello!? Why take this teaching job if you're not going to be around to teach? Out of the 15 or so meetings, 4 were postponed, often with little more than a few hours notice. He wasn't even a good lecturer to boot; boring as hell. And as we speak, there is a big stink going on about his grading policy because he gave C's to a third of the class, which in grad school almost may as well be an F since the passing GPA is a 3.0. Fortunately, I passed and am not a part of this brouhaha, but the class mailing list makes for interesting reading the past few days. (Apparently quite a few students will be taking this issue to the department dean.)

#5, Greed greed greed. There was some Hollywood event taking place in a famous auditorium nearby. The university parking fee went up to $15 from $6. Now, this is not something that I would normally notice and take offense to, but once all these other things started annoying me, I began to see the dark side of everything that happens here. This didn't personally affect me, but taking everything in whole, it shows the greed and money-grubbing ways of this institution.

#6, Although I don't like it, I can at least understand why some professors may become pompous asses. If I really know my shit and everyone was looking to me for answers, I might let that go to my head too. But for your run-of-the-mill clerk in the various department offices to act this way, there is just no excuse. I was trying to find out the procedure was for transferring credit from a class taken at another college. No one seems to know exactly what needs to be done for this to occur, so I had to run from department to department, office to office to find this information. Finally, I found the office that does this, hidden in the basement of an obscure building tucked into the corner of campus. I had questions about the process and the middle-aged clerk acted like she was doing me such a HUGE favor by answering me. In particular, one question I asked was whether my academic department would be approving the course I wanted to take somewhere else. She then put on this haughty expression and said, "Yes, but WE have the final approval." ooh-la-la. I tremble before your power, Office Clerk relegated to the Dungeon.

And then there's my graduate advisor. You'd think a counselor would be friendly and informative. Not this one. I have to ask exactly the right question to get any useful information out of this person. I almost have to know the answer first before I can formulate the magic question. And as for friendliness, let's just say this person always seems to be sitting on a pen. No smiles. Eternal sourpuss expression. When I asked about the procedure to take one class at a state university, this person looked at me like, "Why would you want to do that?" Uh, to save a couple thousand bucks? I realize that the students at this particular university are known for being spoiled and rich, but that doesn't apply to me. Not the rich part at least. So any loophole where I can save money, I will. Is that so hard to understand?

There's a lot more I can say, but I'm all tired out. If you're gonna come to Southern California for college, go to UCLA. I've never attended UCLA, but it can't be any worse.
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Wednesday, May 8th, 2002

Time:12:15 am.
Mood: relaxed.
Took my last final of the semester yesterday. One change in my post-exam attitude from the undergrad days is that I no longer try to find all the correct answers, to see if I got them right, to try and gauge my performance. During undergrad, it was a mad dash immediately afterwards, asking my friends, "What did you get for question 3?" *ruffles through notes to find answer* "Are you sure that's right? I got this! oh no!" "What about number 5?!"

Now, I just think, "It's over. Let's go eat." Much more enjoyable.
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Monday, April 22nd, 2002

Time:10:01 pm.
Mood: amused.
One of the godfathers of entertaining journal entries on AA and Livejournal suggested that I further procrastinate and create a graph of the Excel calculations I wrote about in a previous entry. Who am I to refuse the godfather?

My original calculations only involved the bare minimum, what it would take to get a C. But if I'm going to post this up, I want to do it right, so I extended my calculations to see what it would take to get an A or B as well.

Some background info...
The grading policy for this class is pretty typical.
There are 3 main components to the final grade in this class:
1) 4 homeworks, worth 12.5% each
2) midterm worth 20%
3) final exam worth 30%

The only components still up in the air are the last HW assignment and the final exam. So I calculated, based on the grades I got so far and depending on what I got in the final HW assignment, what it would take on the final exam to get an A, B or C. Here are the results:

For those with a degree in philosophy, english or history =P, this means if I blow off the last HW, I need 35% on the final exam for a C, 69% for a B and 102% (meaning impossible) for an A.

At the other end of the spectrum, if I go ahead and do the assignment and get a 100%, I could get a big goose egg on the final exam and still get a C or just get 60% for an A. I can't skip the final exam though, because the class grading policy dictates that the final exam must be taken.

Of course, the curve could throw all my calculations off, but based on the grade distribution on the midterm, the curve should help, rather than harm, me. *crosses fingers*

This master's degree will probably be the culmination of my formal education. I don't think I want to get a Ph.D in anything, so grades don't matter anymore. What to do, what to do?
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Sunday, April 21st, 2002

Subject:Women want what other women have...
Time:11:02 pm.
Mood: cheerful.
I went to a party of a friend of a friend yesterday. I didn't really know many people there; I started mingling, meeting new people, but because I'm not very outgoing around new people, I was snacking a lot (If you don't understand, then consider yourself lucky). There were a couple of attractive ladies there and I tried to talk to them, but was not able to hold their interest. Then, while I was talking to some guy over the kitchen counter, a gorgeous girl came behind me and draped herself over me... her right arm around my shoulders, chin on my left shoulder and left arm entangled with mine. My best friend and his fiance had arrived and the girl draped over me was the fiance. I'm not sure why she did that, but I wasn't going to discourage her, plus I knew my best friend didn't mind. I hadn't seen the fiance for a couple of weeks so we caught up on recent happenings.

So there I was, leaning on the kitchen counter, conversing with this cute girl over me. It was then that I noticed those previously mentioned attractive ladies starting to notice us and giving me the eye. You know, the eye... that furtive glance, holding eye contact for milliseconds at a time before looking away, sometimes involving a small smile. I told the fiance about this and, on a whim, asked her to start laughing. Loudly. She complied because she's cool like that. I didn't intend to, but I started laughing as well because her laughter was contagious. More people took notice and we staggered off to another part of the house.

After that, more mingling, but something was different. The ladies were more receptive. I was still the same bumbling conversationalist, but they laughed more and talked longer. I can only assume the change occurred in them. And I have heard of this phenomenon before, the phenomenon where a guy surrounded by women is deemed more desirable simply because of the fact that there are women around him. I wasn't surrounded by girls, but I was seen with one beautiful woman and I was seen making her laugh. Yes, I have heard of this, but this was the first time I experienced it. And the effect just snowballed. And I milked it. =)
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Saturday, April 20th, 2002

Subject:Mr. Procrastination is my name...
Time:12:07 pm.
Mood: apathetic.
It's nearing the end of the semester and my apathy is once again increasing. I always start out a semester full of motivation and eagerness. I always say I'm going to study study study and learn learn learn! I am going to be a super-student! But I always end up doing the minimum necessary. My lack of commitment is kinda sad. And it's not like I'm carrying a full load of 4-5 classes like during undergrad. I'm only taking 2 classes with hardly any work at all. But still, I'm calculating how well I would need to do on the final if I don't turn in the last homework assignment. And when I say calculating, I mean it; I'm doing my computations on Excel so I can go through all the what-if scenarios. If I would apply this effort to the actual assignment instead, I'd probably be done already.
Comments: Read 2 orAdd Your Own.

Sunday, April 14th, 2002

Time:11:24 pm.
Mood: surprised.
oh no! Today, Chick put the LA-Portland game in the refrigerator but the Lakers still lost! He's probably still recovering from his open heart surgery and hip surgery, so his game-o-meter is a little out of whack.
Comments: Add Your Own.

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