Entries for April, 2009

Awesome site of the day: 1001 Rules for my Unborn Son. Short little quips which are life lessons. I love the simplicitly and execution! Subscribed.

Posted by roy on April 1, 2009 at 01:57 AM in Ramblings | Add a comment

Last week, some flowers (addressed to me) were sent to the office while I was in a meeting. This is a non-posed picture of my reaction, courtesy of Damien:

This is retribution for my prank.

P.S. It really is the ugliest dog ever.

Posted by roy on April 1, 2009 at 08:10 PM in Ramblings | 9 Comments

"Standing on the rooftop, everybody scream your heart out..." A bit emo I know, but the imagery (to me) is a happy one.

Download or preview:

. . .

Had my college buddies Alex and Han stay with me last week. It was great hanging out with them ... a gentle reminder of my roots and the nostalgia I had for those good ol' college days.

The big forces in our life, the things we find definition and meaning in are the ones that shape us. I've let my career shape my life over the past two years and I safely say that was the absolute right thing. Moving out of NC (sorry, guys) turned out fantastic for me, and I don't regret how I've lived my life in SD thus far.

The past six months, more or less, I struggled with doubts about where my life had been going. There were particular things in my life that spurred a self-examination; I kept asking myself, "Should I be looking for a serious relationship now?"

Left and right, I saw people getting married and committing themselves to serious relationships (to which I have the most admiration - simply because I'm incapable of it). A big part of the pressure came from seeing that - and the worry that, "Well, everybody else is doing it - I must be doing something wrong (or there must be something wrong with me)." Self-esteem is a finicky thing, and there were a lot of moments of self-doubts.

There must be a name for the syndrome where you refuse to accept a truth that everybody else tells you. When I was in school, I never thought I could do anything software-related professionally ... I thought my projects were a phase. When people would tell me I'd be doing that, I dismissed it. But here I am, doing exactly what they said I'd be doing, and enjoying the hell out of it. And me, of all people, didn't believe them. What was I thinking?

My friends also told me (back when I was in NC) the "Jill" situation was a train wreck in the making and I should stay away from it. Instead, I got entangled and became an emotional wreck. Looking back ... what was I thinking?

In the same way, the last six months have been a repeat of that, although I've handled it with much better grace this time around. If anything, getting over that mental hump that was the last six months has granted me a joie de vivre

Somebody mentioned I must be going through a quarter-life crisis lately (redecorating, traveling, new "look") ... it's quite the opposite. Instead of being mired in self-doubt and trying to buy my way out of it, I have gained a newfound appreciation for everything that is MY life, and I am simply celebrating it. I am doing everything I wanted to do (and things I was curious to do, but never had the confidence to try). That's why I've been such an eager beaver to go sailing, and also why I've been taking ballroom dancing lessons (which are pretty darn fun, until my toe incident, blast!).

And of course, the most important thing: traveling again. I've been away from the rest of the world for too long.

Posted by roy on April 3, 2009 at 12:17 AM in Personal | 1 Comments

I love Scoble, but sometimes his breathless fanboyism posts are off the mark. For example, Scoble says about the Facebook redesign:

When Zuckerberg announced these changes a couple of weeks ago I told him he was brilliant and that his moves this month would be remembered for decades. Decades.

Here’s why:

Let’s say you’re walking down University Ave. in Palo Alto, California in a couple of years (or, really, any street in the world) and you’re hungry.

You pull out your iPhone or Palm Pre or Android or Blackberry or Windows Mobile doohickey and click open the Facebook application. Then you type “sushi near me.”

It answers back “within walking distance are two sushi restaurants that more than 20 of your friends have liked.”

Wait a second. “Friends have liked?”

Did Scoble just mention ANYTHING that Facebook does? Facebook cannot even recommend to me the correct pieces of content I want to see from my friends ("Highlights" was absolutely useless), much less recommend or mine information about where I've been eating.

And as far as I know, it does no geolocation at all.

And even if they were working on it, who do you think would get to that functionality first - Google or Facebook? (Goes to buy some GOOG stock)

Yes, the Facebook redesign sucked for a variety of reasons: aesthetics & duplicated functionality (so do I go to Highlights, my Feed, or my Friends > Profile Updates to figure out what my friends have updated?), and a step back from finding useful information (right now, my Twitter + Facebook feeds are nearly identical - tell me why I'd go to Facebook now???)

Unfortunately, unless Facebook sees a Tropicana-esque dropoff in traffic due to their own ineptitude, it doesn't really matter, does it?

. . .

That last point warrants more highlighting. Tropicana tried to revamp their juicebox branding ... it was generally reviled and considered stupid, but they went for it anyways. Well, guess what?

After its package redesign, sales of the Tropicana Pure Premium line plummeted 20% between Jan. 1 and Feb. 22, costing the brand tens of millions of dollars. On Feb. 23, the company announced it would bow to consumer demand and scrap the new packaging, designed by Peter Arnell. It had been on the market less than two months.

And lest you blame the economy:

The entire refrigerated-orange-juice category posted flat unit sales and a 5% decline in dollar sales during the period.

Think about it. The juice didn't change. Just the packaging. And that led to a 20% drop?! Wow.

. . .

In one of those "what if" hypothetical conversations, one of my friends was asking me what it'd take for me to work at a company like Facebook - everybody has a price, right? My assertion was that I'd never ever work for a company like Facebook - it was clear after the hiring binge last year its best years were behind it.

My opinion was vindicated a few days later. Why would I work for a company that (a) consistently pisses off its users (b) has fickle executive leadership and (c) is so big that you'd hardly have an influence in the product? No amount of money would bring happiness to a job like that.

Consumer sites are so trendy anyways - even the unassailable ones eventually come crumbling down (high pressure!). Facebook, while it has traffic growth and "profit" (although with $500 million in the bank, one would think it wouldn't be hard to turn a profit, especially when Microsoft is bankrolling your ads - has anybody even SEEN a useful ad on Facebook yet?), will eventually stop being considered so awesome.

Posted by roy on April 3, 2009 at 11:22 AM in Ramblings | 1 Comments

For my Seattle trip, I decided to load up a film point-and-shoot camera (my Yashica T5D) with some Tri-X instead of lugging around my dSLR. I got my film scanner sent over from NC (Thanks, Mom & sis!) and scanned in a bunch of pictures tonight.

I'll share the Seattle ones first (I have some more from Big Sur and some San Diego night shots, all on Tri-X): 

I likey this one.

The first and only Tabulas model - Oliver.

Oliver and Borst enjoying something that's happening behind the camera.

Me and Stephanie

Seattle Farmer's Market

Does anybody else miss those handy little photo timestamps? They're a blast from the past! (And to think, just ten years ago, THIS was the way it was done!)

Posted by roy on April 4, 2009 at 02:34 AM in Travel, Photography | 10 Comments

Some pictures of San Diego at night, exposed on Tri-X.



The last two seem especially fitting, given the state of the California economy and its solution.

Posted by roy on April 5, 2009 at 02:37 PM in Photography | 2 Comments


Tomorrow, men's basketball championship ... an end to March Madness. 6:21 Pacific. MSU vs. UNC.

MindTouch has a big Michigan & UNC contingent ... so it'll be interesting.

This is one heckuva matchup. The media loves it - Michigan State, #2 seed in its region, ousted Big East powerhouses Louisville and UConn on its way to the championship game (in effect becoming the Big East champions, kind of like UNC when it went through Wisconsin, MSU, and Illionis to win the '05 championship). The championship game is held at Ford Field in Detroit, which is basically a home game for MSU (expected attendence of MSU fans: 50,000 ... wow).

ESPN seems to have tapped into the national conscious by talking up how MSU represents the one glimmer of hope in Michigan after everything they're going through. If I were writing a screenplay for a Disney movie, you really couldn't write it better than this. A scrappy team led by a charismatic coach, beats everybody's expectations to have them reach the finals in their hometown against the team that is expected to win - the more talented, the more loaded Tar Heels. 

It's kind of like Drago vs. Rocky. Or maybe it's the Patriots vs. the Giants. Let's hope the Heels hold out!

This MSU team does seem to have destiny and home field on its side. UNC and MSU did play earlier this year at Ford Field, where Carolina whooped up MSU 98-63. And there's the problem: Carolina goes into this a lose-lose. Win, and we're only meeting expectations. Even worse, we've crapped on Michigan. Lose, and well... we weren't supposed to lose!

. . .

A quick point: I've had my reservations about the "strength" of the Big East this year - I always thought the traditionally strong conferences (ACC / Big 10 / Pac-10) were pretty weak this year, which made the Big East seem better by comparison. I'm glad we bounced 'Nova out, so I can stop reading about the Big East. It reminds me of those few years when Carolina sucked (the dreaded "8-20" year) and Maryland kept claiming itself as Duke's archrival... please.

. . .

I try to keep the Dukie-bashing to a minimum on here, but I just have to throw some gasoline on the fire: What's up with Duke? They've had really disappointing exits from the tournament the last five or so years.

Posted by roy on April 6, 2009 at 12:04 AM in Sports | 8 Comments

Congrats to Carolina for an awesome season. I know it's silly for semi-adultish boys to be so invested in a spot, but I've watched this team for four years now, and to watch their hard work and excellence pay off in a championship ... it's one of the few things that really move me. Especially after last year's debacle against Kansas, to see them rebound this year and dominate the tournament was a testament to their hard work and commitment.

. . .

I have figured out why the state of California is bankrupt. Some people blame the economy, others blame runaway spending, some even blame the pro-environment regulatations which cripple industries. It is none of these things.

Apparently the State Controller's office is incapable of handling numbers. For example, let's say, theoretically, I used TurboTax to file for my California state taxes. And let's say, theoretically, TurboTax says I'm owed $272 back. Responsible me, not yet ready to e-file (for various reasons) files it the old fashioned way - print off the TurboTax form and send it in via snailmail.

Well, guess what I got in the mail today? If you guessed a check from the State Controller's office, get yourself a cookie! Good job!

However, if you guessed a check from the State Controller's office in the amount of $272, YOU GET NO COOKIE! GIVE THAT COOKIE BACK! <snatch>

No, instead, somebody misread the PRINTED $272 on my return as $5,727.00. Which, if I remember my basic algebra correctly... is not the same.

Or maybe the extra $5,500 is for the trouble of having to wait a couple weeks. Thank YOU, California! What's an extra lost $5,500 when you have a deficit of $42,000,000,000? (Or maybe the state of California is assisting the Fed in trying to escape a liquidity trap with helicopter money?)

Posted by roy on April 6, 2009 at 10:33 PM in Ramblings | 9 Comments

I took a couple shots in Big Sur on Tri-X.

Bixby Bridge - you can't tell from this photo, but I'm standing near the edge of this cliff - for somebody who is acrophobic, this was pretty scary. (Actually, take a look at this photo on Wikipedia to get a sense of where I was standing - I had to climb down the hill for this angle)

Fisheye distortion on film is fantastic. I love it!


 . . .

Going to a school like Carolina, which has a rich basketball tradition, it doesn't occur to me that other people necessarily understand how important these events are. It doesn't matter if you're a casual fan or not a fan at all - you get caught up in the mix.

There is a beautiful time-lapse video of Franklin St. (the main street in Chapel Hill) after UNC won the championship game ... it's very well executed. (the way the bonfires pop-up is really cool)

Timelapse: Franklin Street after the victory

 . . .

Hannah, your gift to Aaron was very well received in the office. Those slippers are awesome! Aaron blogged about it and posted a picture!

Posted by roy on April 7, 2009 at 10:42 PM in Travel, Photography, Sports, MindTouch | 1 Comments

I went to a job fair today. Passed out a lot of resumes and talked to a lot of different firms - job hunting is so exciting and... wait a second. No, that's not what I did. (I was tempted to Tweet something along the lines of "Looking for awesome new opportunities at UCSD job fair" just to mess with Aaron, but he has enough legitimate things to worry about!)

So last year, Damien and Sofia went to the UCSD job fair to go resume hunting to fulfill some summer internships. They passed a bunch of resumes to me, and I ended up hiring two of them for the summer ... and they were both Asian girls.

I got a lot of crap in the office about me using internships as "Roy's dating service." (It was all in jest, obviously)

I always gave crap to Damien cause half the resumes he passed to me were Asian girls - so what do people think will happen?!

Well, I got to experience first-hand. I have a stack of about 30 or so resumes (Guerric has a bunch, too) that I'm sifting through - and I realized that of the 30, 11 of them were Asian girls. YEAH, ROY'S DATING SERVICE IS BACK. (sigh... I hope by preemptively joking about it, I can kill this ridiculous joke.)

Anyways, it begs a VERY interesting question: why does the demographic skew that way? I don't know UCSD's demographic breakdown, but it can't be 33% Asian females. Is it cause women are far more responsible about these types of things? I know I never was responsible enough to network or go job hunting ... and a lot of my friends were also that way.

. . .

My brain has been completely fried lately. I'm not joking - last night at trivia night, I contributed one good thought the whole night. I kid you not. It's like my brain had just shut down.

Here's another example of what happened tonight:

I got into the elevator. I clicked "1." The light lit up for a second, then went dark. I hit it again. Lit up, then dark. I hit it again. Nothing.

It was at that point I realized I was actually on the first floor, and I needed to hit "4."


Posted by roy on April 8, 2009 at 09:29 PM in Ramblings, MindTouch | 2 Comments

"when we come down / we'll be dreaming safe and sound / you better know why / baby that's all I got" - rebelution "safe and sound"

Download or preview:

Posted by roy on April 9, 2009 at 02:38 AM in Music | Add a comment

This is the only U2 song I like.

U2 - In a Little While

In a little while, surely you'll be mine
In a little while, I'll be there
In a little while, this hurt will hurt no more
I'll be home, love

When the night takes a deep breath
And the daylight has no air
If I crawl, if I come crawling home
Will you be there?

In a little while, I won't be blown by every breeze
Friday night running to Sunday on my knees
That girl, that girl, she's mine
And I've know her since
Since she was a little girl with Spanish eyes
Oh, when I saw her in a pram they pushed her by
My, how you've grown
Well it's been, been, it's been a little while

Slow down, my beating heart
A man dreams one day to fly
A man takes a rocket ship into the skies
He lives on a star that's dying in the night
And follows in the trail of the scatter of light
Turn it on, turn it on
You turn me on, hmmm yeah

Oooh, slow down, my beating heart
Oooh, slowly, slowly love

Download or preview:

Posted by roy on April 10, 2009 at 01:15 AM in Music | 3 Comments

Oh, Dilbert. You make me laugh.

. . .

Following up on my California tax refund post (where the state of California mistakenly returned $5,500 more than I expected), when I called up the Franchise Tax Board to resolve the issue, they figured out the problem: whoever keyed in my returns into their system dropped a "0" off my adjusted gross income.


I have to wonder, though, how long it would have taken for them to catch their own mistake. Guess we'll never know.

. . .

I finally finished my wall (this thing took forever, because I couldn't figure out how to lay it out - Han finally pushed me to this layout when he visited two weeks ago):

I do love those war-time propaganda posters.

Posted by roy on April 11, 2009 at 01:08 PM in Loft, Ramblings | 11 Comments

my life be like... ooh, aah...

Currently listening to: grits - ooh aah
Posted by roy on April 12, 2009 at 12:44 AM in Personal | 1 Comments

My writing has gone downhill. I wrote a long entry on URL shortening, then realized how embarrassingly bad it was written, so I deleted it. Here's the shorter version (which is still wordy - ugh).


URL shorteners are useful when your URL has tons of nasty characters that may get mangled by email clients. They are NOT useful when you're trying to fit in a URL to a Tweet - I cannot believe that Twitter somehow managed to make these URL shortener services so popular. Twitter limits to 140 because of SMS. Yet who receives URLs through SMSes that can't handle a long URL? (I cannot access URLs through my crappy phone, and I'm pretty sure iPhones had advanced client apps which could probably handle URLs fine). Twitter is NOT the internet - I really wish people wouldn't change for it.

URL shorteners as a transport mechanism ... I can accept that usage as OK. URLs on the web are not permanent (short or not) - looking back at my posts from 5 years ago, almost none of the links work. TinyURL will probably outlast most of those sites, but in theory, it is foolish to add another third party system between you and your content. But people who use TinyURLs because they think pretty URLs are too long ... come ON. I mean, do you really want to blindly click on shortened links?

I dare any of you to click this: http://tinyurl.com/yr44ke

When I implemented my Tabulas Easter Egg (always auto-expanding shortened URLs in Tabulas entries), I didn't realized I was actually improving security - Ree pointed this out to me. Don't abuse URL shorteners.

The proposed rev="canonical" solution is a great idea in theory. What it does is allow web applications to specify where they want their short URLs to be generated - ideally within the same application. That way, the web application itself controls the URL shortening service, which in theory only matters if TinyURL ever goes down. (Then you go, "Ha-ha, my site's short URLs still work" - until your whole server crashes).

Of course, any application which involves installing a Firefox plug-in is never going to get widespread adoption ... but it's still a cool technological solution, using a microformat. If anything, this shows how HTML truly is *the* ultimate markup language.

Posted by roy on April 14, 2009 at 12:27 AM in Web Development | 1 Comments

I was surprised that i could be empathic - a skill I was forced to pick up at MindTouch while managing people, undoubtedly. I've always had a cold, calculating streak - I had always assumed that these traits were mutually exclusive. But to my surprise, they aren't.

I'm always surprised when people perceive me as acting the opposite way - that I'm empathic when I'm actually being calculating, and vice versa.

Empathy is generally considered a Good Thing - it makes you a better person.

I wonder how the the flip side is perceived. It's easy to look at some of the things I've done and say it's manipulative. Is there even a positive way to describe the calculating trait?

Posted by roy on April 14, 2009 at 10:24 PM in Personal | 3 Comments

This song has no lyrics - it's just a nice chill guitar riff. A good way to end the week.

Nightmares on Wax - You Wish

Download or preview:

Posted by roy on April 16, 2009 at 10:58 PM in Music | Add a comment

Visa: check
Immunizations: check
Travel buddy who speaks the native tongue: check
Airline ticket with potentially shady company: check

May 2nd to May 16th, I will be completely off the grid. If I may say so myself, a well-deserved break from it all. It's been four years since my last out-of-country trip ...

Travel plans: Flying to Kunming, China. A couple days in Kunming (for altitude acclimitization). If all goes well (this part of the trip is still up in the air), fly into Lhasa, Tibet for about a week. Take the two-day train from Lhasa to Beijing. Stay in Beijing for a day (not enough time, I know), then fly back home.

Now the burning question: film or digital?

Posted by roy on April 17, 2009 at 12:02 AM in Travel | 5 Comments

This makes Twitter so worth it: (Shaquille O'Neal, pro basketball player, responding to Oprah Winfrey:

Posted by roy on April 18, 2009 at 05:20 PM in Ramblings | 5 Comments

Damien and I nearly capsized the 16-footer we took out to the bay today... and that was my weekend!

. . .

Actually, I did catch up on movies this weekend. Here are my short reviews:

  • Death Race - Awesome B movie
  • Babylon A.D. - Ending was a letdown.
  • Quantum of Solace - Pretty much what I expected. 

. . .

I saw a link to "Almost Perfect: How a Bunch of Regular Guys Built WordPerfect Corporation" a couple of weeks back - it's a link to the site, which has the whole book online! I hate reading long documents online, so I ended up picking up a used copy (Amazon link)- it's been a fun book to read. Not particularly insightful, but I always like reading about the beginnings of companies.

. . .

Saw a great blog post: "Top 10 Reasons Managers Become Great"

Here's the list:

  1. Enjoy helping people grow.
  2. Love creating positive environments.
  3. Want to correct mistakes inflicted on them.
  4. Care deeply about the success and well being of their team.
  5. Succession mentality.
  6. Long term sense of reward.
  7. Practice of the golden rule.
  8. Self aware, including weaknesses.
  9. Sets tone of healthy debate and criticism.
  10. Willing to fight, but picks their battles.
  11. Instinctively corrects bad behavior within their team.

(Yeah, yeah, it has eleven).

I agree in spirit with "Sets tone of healthy debate", but it must be accompanied with a complementary rule: "Know when to pick sides and push people to agree." "Long term sense of reward" is another good one in theory, but its explanation seems like a bit of a stretch. Short-term and long-term gains aren't mutually exclusive. And I'm not sure how it really contributes to being a great manager.

A couple I'd add:

  1. Really listens.
  2. Always has an open-door policy.

Anybody who is interested in reading a good book on managing people, I highly recommend Rands' book.

I find it refreshing sometimes to break everything down to its basic component. So here it is: "What is the role of a manager?"

It's to create an environment to allow people to succeed. It is not to tell people what to do, but to give them the support in order for them to go out and do. Set the ball in motion, then step away and watch people succeed. Oftentimes the cynic in me forgets this.

Posted by roy on April 20, 2009 at 12:48 AM in Ramblings, MindTouch, San Diego | 2 Comments

I forgot how good of a film Magnolia is.

Posted by roy on April 21, 2009 at 12:34 AM in Ramblings | 1 Comments

If you ever visit the McDonald's on Park Blvd, you will notice these prices:

  • Hamburger - $1.29
  • Cheeseburger - $1.49
  • Double Cheeseburger - $1.19


Posted by roy on April 21, 2009 at 01:59 PM in Ramblings | 3 Comments

There are so many times when I wish I had written about my short thoughts (months down the line). Anyways, without much explanation: seems there's a big shift away from XHTML to HTML5. Is this the next four years?

. . .

Nat Friedman:

Alex asked me, “Nat, you and I and all our friends are pretty smart, capable people.  Why aren’t we working on something great that could save the world or be worthy of a Nobel prize?”

I love my work in the Linux world, and hope it has had some positive impact on the world.  But what Alex said hit home.  Right now, could I be doing something bigger?  Something better?  Could you?  Even if you are passionate about your work, it’s a good call-out and an important thing to reflect about.   If you’re not trying to do your very best, why not?  Do you have a good reason?

. . .

"Who if not us? When if not now?"

. . .

"Flexible workflows." Heard that phrase for the first time today to describe our product. It's a very powerful concept - the software is malleable to suit your needs. It makes the software humanizing. Software problems can either be solved technically or socially. I've always been a strong proponent of the latter, and it really does highlight one of the strengths of our software: you could drop it into any existing situation and use social pressures to enforce a pretty good process. Don't make a huge technical investment. Just see how people interact, and use the software to adapt around that. Encouraging.

. . .

Transience is beautiful.

. . .

Form follows function, but aesthetics is still important:

Researchers in Japan setup two ATMs, "identical in function, the number of buttons, and how they worked." The only difference was that one machine’s buttons and screens were arranged more attractively than the other. In both Japan and Israel (where this study was repeated) researchers observed that subjects encountered fewer difficulties with the more attractive machine. The attractive machine actually worked better.

But aesthetics is still not a replacement for usability - usability trumps all. Once it's usable... make it pretty.

Posted by roy on April 21, 2009 at 10:27 PM in Web Development, MindTouch | 1 Comments

Brutally touching photo essay: The Bride Was Beautiful.

Posted by roy on April 22, 2009 at 10:29 PM in Photography | 1 Comments

I was not aware that Ray LaMontagne sang awesome happy songs; this one has a nice Motown feel:

Ray LaMontagne - You Are the Best Thing

Baby, it's been a long day
Baby, things ain't been going my way
You know I need you here, you clear my mind,
All the time

And baby, the way you move me it's crazy,
It's like you see right through me, you make it easier,
You please me, you don't even have to try

Because you are the best thing
That ever happened to me

Baby, we've come a long way
Baby, you know I hope and I pray that you'll believe me,
When I say this love will never fade away

Now both of us have known love before,
To come on all promising like the spring
Just to walk on out the door
But our hearts are strong and our hearts are kind,
Now let me tell you just exactly what is on my mind,

Download or preview:

Posted by roy on April 23, 2009 at 10:13 PM in Music | 2 Comments

This is the best video EVER.

I need this for the MindTouch office. No question about it.

Posted by roy on April 23, 2009 at 10:51 PM in Ramblings, Foolishness, MindTouch | 2 Comments

Steven Chu, the Secretary of Energy, in a NY Times interview:

Was anyone in your family impressed when you won the Nobel Prize in Physics?
Probably, but who knows? I called my mother up when they announced the Nobel Prize, waiting until 7 in the morning. She said, "That’s nice — and when are you going to see me next?"

Posted by roy on April 24, 2009 at 10:19 PM in Ramblings | Add a comment

Citi used to have Shell gift cards - which was awesome for me, because I would always get the GC in time to fill up my car's tank - I don't think I paid for gas once the first year or so I was in San Diego.

Well, they got rid of the gas gift cards, and I just kept accruing the points, in hopes they would bring the cards back.

No such luck - so I finally cashed in my credit card points ... for Williams-Sonoma gift cards.

The sad part? I'm really looking forward to spending these gift cards. Knowing Williams-Sonoma, I'll probably be able to afford a wine glass with my $100 GC.

But on the upside, I should also finally get my plasma mounted with the help of Corey tomorrow! Yay!

Posted by roy on April 24, 2009 at 10:32 PM in Ramblings | 1 Comments

I miss my flying dreams.

My dreams have been getting worse lately. I've had this particular dream two or three times now, and it always sucks when I have them.

In this dream, I can see myself sleeping (I'm in the third person view). As I sleep, I can sense that I'm having trouble breathing.

As the dream progresses, I have more and more trouble breathing. I can feel myself suffocating. I tell myself to wake up, or turn over ... but nothing happens. It's not that I'm being actively suffocated - it's just that my body is not breathing. In my dream, I know that all I have to do is turn over, or wake up. But as much as I try, I can't.

A wave of helplessness washes over me, as I can't control my body. I'm watching myself suffocate myself, and I can't do anything about it.

Sometime during the dream, I switch from the third person back to the first person, and I can feel myself struggling in my mind to move ... but nothing happens. I'm paralyzed. 

I'm not sure if, at this point, if what I'm seeing is a dream, or if it's really happening. I feel very awake during the whole episode, but I've had that same feeling before when lucid dreaming. (It's sleep apnea, except I'm fully aware of what's happening)

It's a very sucky dream to have.

. . .

Very interesting - Wikipedia has an article on sleep paralysis:

Physiologically, sleep paralysis is closely related to the paralysis that occurs as a natural part of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is known as REM atonia. Sleep paralysis occurs when the brain awakes from a REM state, but the body paralysis persists. This leaves the person fully conscious, but unable to move. The paralysis can last from several seconds to several minutes "after which the individual may experience panic symptoms and the realization that the distorted perceptions were false".

. . .

Fortunately, I'm pretty sure this is not a physiological one, but a mental one. I've been under a lot of pressure at work lately, so I know once the presure from work subsides, this'll get better. (It seems that I always think that it's not possible to get more pressure, but then it happens - part of growing up, I suppose). 

I'm fortunate in the sense that I am, at least, not so helpless. I exert enough control over my teams to shift directions when necessary - I can enact change if necessary. I can't imagine how helpless I would feel at a larger corporation, if I were a high-level, not being able to directly control the direction of my team - to have that power stripped away due to the inherent size of the company (how well could a VP of Engineering at Yahoo! shift gears?)

Currently listening to: red hot chili peppers - under the bridge
Posted by roy on April 27, 2009 at 12:29 AM in Dreams, MindTouch | 9 Comments

Having so many readers, I sometimes feel obligated to pass on important information. So here's today's PSA:

I finished Mad Men Season 1, and it reminds me of this poster. As for the TV series, it's good, but it could be a whole lot better. Mad Men is good enough to start comparisons to The Wire (as a drama), but The Wire just blows everything out of the water.

Some things I would improve with that Mad Men: more stuff about advertising. I really do enjoy learning more about that - the advertising never seems to be a subtext for the show's narrative - which is something that really addictive TV shows do, like House, West Wing, or Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip ... Mad Men randomly drop-ins about advertising every once in a while instead of using the career to push the storylines. 

I also don't enjoy how the whole show revolves around people cheating on their spouses. It'd be one thing if that was one theme for one of the characters, but it seems that every character suffers from that flaw. Gets kind of boring after a while.

Posted by roy on April 28, 2009 at 12:31 AM in Ramblings | 3 Comments

My trip date is creeping up on me (this weekend!). I have so much to wrap up at work before I leave.

. . .

Horrible typos from my traveling buddy:

Roy: i'll bring some advil
Roy: we are two TOUGH men

. . .

Hao did all the negotiations on the trip, and I have to share this email snippet ... cracks me up (if you know Hao, you'll find this even funnier):

The price of [REDACTED] Yuan per person is too high. Is there anyway to lower it to [REDACTED]. We only take up TWO seats in the jeep, when these vehicles can easily seat four or more. Since the gas usage is based on weight, and we are TWO average weight Americans, not the usual OVERWEIGHT Americans, the vehicle will use substantially less gas.

If I was any type of talented writer, I could simply write the great American novel based on the people in my life - damn, they're all interesting and awesome.

. . .

Final Tibet trip itinerary (finalized as of this moment!):

  • May 2nd - May 4th: Fly into Kunming, China
  • May 4th - May 6th: Kunming, China (acclimitize as best as I can)
  • May 6th: Kunming -> Chengdu -> Lhasa flight
  • May 6th - May 7th: Lhasa
  • May 7th - May 9th: Camping at Namtso Lake (Return to Lhasa)
  • May 9th - May 10th: Drive from Lhasa to Shigatse and see Yamdrok Lake along the way (stay in Shigatse overnight)
  • May 11th: Return to Lhasa via Gyantse
  • May 12th - May 14th: Take the high-altitude railway into Beijing
  • May 14th - May 16th: Beijing & HOME!

I'm getting all my photog stuff in order (ordered extra memory sticks) - hopefully I can take some cool pictures to share!

My worries: altitude sickness. Lhasa is 3,650 meters above sea level. Kunming is about 2,000 M, so I'm hoping my two days there will slowly acclimitize me. Worst comes to worst, I'll just be downing Advil to combat those nasty headaches :)

I'll admit it - California has made me soft. I can't remember the last time I didn't sleep on a comfortable bed, or enjoyed weather that wasn't gorgeous. The 48 hour train ride back on hard sleepers... should be interesting. Rion (coworker) mentioned that ride was beautiful, so I'm really looking forward to it.

Posted by roy on April 28, 2009 at 10:39 PM in Travel | 12 Comments

... it'd make a really, really awesome movie. Check out the Juice's post on a Skype conversation where Guerric and I do some brainstorming ... I'd also like everyone to look at the timestamp of the whole conversation. That could have been the most creative minute ever.

Posted by roy on April 28, 2009 at 11:46 PM in Ramblings | 2 Comments
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